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New York Court Rules Viewing Sexually Explicit Images of Kids Not Always a Crime

online porn, child exploitation, time cover sexual, kids and internet, new york state court of appeals ruling

It's been a crazy week.

The New York State Court of Appeals made an interesting ruling this week with heavy implications — that “simply viewing child pornography online does not constitute either criminal possession or procurement under state penal law,” New York’s Newsday reports. The court came to this decision after reviewing the case of James D. Kent, a former professor of public administration at Marist College. Kent had been convicted in 2007 of two counts of procuring and 134 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child and began serving his one-to-three-year sentence in 2009. According to Newsday, “The Court of Appeals agreed that Kent was properly convicted because he had downloaded, saved and deleted 132 images. But the majority said some images in his computer cache, temporary files automatically stored from sites he viewed, cannot be held against him under state law.”

In other words, there must be some proof that the person in possession of computer files containing kiddie porn meant to obtain those images for the purposes of sexual gratification and exploiting a child. Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote in her ruling, “That such images were simply viewed, and that defendant had the theoretical capacity to exercise control over them during the time they were resident on the screen, is not enough to constitute their procurement or possession …. Rather, some affirmative action is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen.”

That’s probably a good thing, even though it seems strange, since as the New York Times pointed out this week, kids do sometimes stumble accidentally on porn. Thus, images of porn on a computer that were put there accidentally shouldn’t be held against someone. Then again, how much kiddie porn is found accidentally? I’m guessing not much. I don’t know. The only porn I look at online is Target’s Home Decor section. Ooh, I get shivers just thinking about it!

The New York court’s ruling was made Tuesday, two days before the much talked-about TIME magazine cover was released featuring an image of extended breastfeeding, which prompted comedian Annie Lederman to joke, “Hey TIME, we get it. It’s now legal to look at kiddy porn in NY but do you have to throw it in our faces?” Touché!

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