RECOMMENDATION 59

Part: 
Three
Chapter: 
3

Federal law enforcement agencies should use search warrants in child pornography and related cases expeditiously as a means of gathering evidence and furthering overall investigation efforts in the child pornography area.

One of the most powerful investigative tools available to law enforcement agents is a search warrant. When used in child pornography and related child sexual abuse cases, a search warrant is unique in its ability to "make or break" an investigation.

Pedophile offenders are "collectors" and will retain photographs, magazines, movies, video tapes and correspondence relating to children for many years. Many of the items collected may not be child pornography. Collections often include "child erotica" which will include "innocent" depictions of children.[636] The discovery of these collections has often unlocked the door to a wealth of information by providing a record of the life and activities of an offender.

In a child pornography investigation executing a search warrant on the suspect's residence may yield photos of the individual engaged in sex with children thus supporting additional charges for child sexual abuse.[637] Pedophile offenders often maintain diaries recording their sexual encounters with children.[638] When a suspect uses a computer to store information regarding communications with other offenders or as a personal diary the search should also include access to computer equipment and records.[639]

In New York, police executed a search warrant on the residence of a suspected child molester and found he kept a complete folder on each of his victims including photographs and records of the dates the victim was in his home.[640] An experienced prosecutor has reported that in one half of child sexual abuse cases, proper searches recover photos of the defendant engaged in sexual acts with children.[641]

A collection of "child erotica" may help to identify the individual as an offender,[642] and may strengthen the prosecution case. This is especially true when proving intent is critical. A wrestling coach accused of fondling a  juvenile who claims he was merely demonstrating a wrestling hold or technique would receive closer attention if a search of his residence yields child erotica in the form of writings about such acts and the pleasure he derived from them.

Law enforcement officers located child pornography consumers in many states as a result of the seizure of Catherine "Black Cathy" Wilson's mailing list.[643] One person on the list was an Episcopal priest living in Baltimore, Maryland.[644] Baltimore police were able to execute a search warrant on his home and seize the individual's album of sexually explicit photos of young boys based upon this information.[645] They found "love letters" from the victims and additional pornography.[646] Police subsequently were able to locate one of the boys who was molested by the priest.[647]

The United States Customs office, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and United States Postal Inspectors were conducting a joint child pornography investigation in the Ft. Lauderdale area. During the course of the investigation, a business named "Sun Images" was identified as a producer and distributor of child pornography in the United States. Sun Images was located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The owner and operator of Sun Images was identified. Further investigation revealed the Sun Images was also known as "Teens Unlimited" and "Young Stuff".

The investigators made an undercover buy of child pornography from the owner of the business. The child pornography was being sold in sets of six to ten photos for fifteen to thirty-five dollars a set. The owner was also selling "sponsorships" or custom ordered sets. These photos were available from two hundred to four hundred dollars per set, and would be taken of thirteen to eighteen year old males, "posing" in any manner directed by the customer.

Based on the undercover purchase and other evidence, a search warrant was executed on the owner's residence. The investigators discovered a large quantity of child pornography at the residence and were able to obtain a second warrant for a storage facility in which the defendant kept the releases and applications from his models. He had two sets of applications and releases, one set with the actual dates of birth and one set showing the models to be over eighteen.

Also discovered during the search warrants was the defendant's method for printing and distributing the photographs, as well as his foreign source. COQ International of Denmark was selling the defendant's magazines and slides.

In February, 1985, the Contraband Enforcement Team, of the United States Customs Service, intercepted one magazine entitled Dream Boy No. 6 sent to Bradenton, Florida, address. The magazine had been sent from the Netherlands.

The Contraband Enforcement Team forwarded the magazine to the Special Agent in Charge, Tampa, Florida, for investigation. The Special Agent supervised an investigation which showed that the addressee had two previous seizures of child pornography. The first was a magazine entitle Lust Boys and the second was Child Pornography Advertisements.

Based on the previous seizures and other investigation, a controlled delivery of the Dream Boy magazine was made. Based on the controlled delivery, a search warrant was obtained for the addressee's residence.

United States Customs agents and United States Postal Inspectors surveilled the residence after the delivery of the magazine, while waiting for the warrant to be issued and delivered. While the surveillance was being conducted, the addressee arrived at his residence. Shortly afterward, a thirteen year old boy arrived at the residence on a bicycle and went inside the house. The warrant was delivered about five minutes later, at which time the agents went into the house. Upon entering the house, the agents discovered the offender on the couch with the boy. Although both the defendant and the boy were clothed, it was obvious that the boy had an erection. It appeared the agents had prevented further molestation from taking place.

Although the offender was arrested, he was granted bond with the provision that he had no contact with anyone under eighteen years of age. He was suspended from his place of employment as a guidance counselor at a middle school.

During subsequent investigation, three other children were identified, through seized photographs of them, and that information was turned over to the local sheriff's department. The parents of the children refused to cooperate in the investigation because they did not want their children to testify in court.

In August, 1985, the offender was sentenced to five years in the Middle District of Florida. Four and one-half years of the sentence were suspended.

When making a request for a search warrant investigators should seek to expand the scope of their search beyond child pornography. In one investigator's experience over ninety-five percent of the child pornography cases in which he used search warrants, both adult and child pornography were found in the possession of the child sexual abusers or child pornographers.[648]

Sexually explicit, "adult" material is often used to lower the inhibitions of child victims and should be an item Sought.[649] The scope of the search should include not only the suspect's home but also his or her office, car and any other known place of habitation or storage. Pedophiles who are involved in child sexual abuse are rarely without some portion of their child pornography in close proximity and often keep materials in several different places. Warrants should be drafted to include a wide range of materials under the suspect's control in a variety of locations.[650]

Notes

  1. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Kenneth Lanning, p. 238.
  2. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, William Dworin, p. 44.
  3. Id., p. 33.
  4. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Paul Hartman, p. 106.
  5. Miami Hearing, Vol. II, Paul Der Ohannesian, p. 52.
  6. Id., p. 77.
  7. Id., pp. 232. 235.
  8. Id., p. 240; Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Northrup, pp. 221-22.
  9. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Northrup, pp. 212-13.
  10. Miami Hearing, Vol. II, Kenneth Elsesser, p. 147.
  11. Miami Hearing, Vol. II, Alfred Danna, pp. 272-73.
  12. Id., p. 275.
  13. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, William Dworin, p. 32.
  14. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Kenneth Lanning, p. 225.
  15. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Kenneth Lanning, pp. 233-34.