Oregon's a Haven for Child-Porn Enthusiasts

Pervs there are likelier to skate than in the Evergreen State.

You can look at all the online kiddie porn you want, ruled the Oregon Supreme Court last week, just so long as you don't download it, pay for it, print it, or share it. But here in Washington, we've got laws against that stuff. As reported Thursday in The Oregonian, the state's high court reversed convictions in two cases in which men were found with child-porn website addresses in their Internet browser history, but with no downloaded files, printed photos, or other such evidence. In both cases, the men were convicted because they "could have" stored, printed, forwarded, or otherwise done something other than ogle the porn—not because there was any proof that they did. Here's the notable part of the provision in Oregon's revised statutes pertaining to possessing child pornography: "A person commits the crime of encouraging child sexual abuse in the third degree if the person: (i) Knowingly possesses or controls any photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording of sexually explicit conduct involving a child for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of the person or another person; or (ii) Knowingly pays, exchanges or gives anything of value to obtain or view a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording of sexually explicit conduct involving a child for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of the person or another person." Now here are the key parts of Washington's analogous law: "A person who intentionally views over the internet visual or printed matter depicting a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct as defined in RCW 9.68A.011(4) (a) through (e) is guilty of viewing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the first degree, a class B felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW." Notice anything different? In Oregon, simply viewing kiddie porn for free on the web without saving it, printing it, or forwarding it to your creepy buddies isn't addressed. It wasn't addressed in Washington either until HB 2424, passed last March, clearly defined the simple viewing of online child pornography as a crime. Without such a law to cite, the Oregon court ruled that it had no choice but to overturn the convictions. Justice Michael Gillette put a rather weird spin on his opinion, writing: "Looking for something on the Internet is like walking into a museum to look at pictures—the pictures are where the person expected them to be, and he can look at them, but that does not in any sense give him possession of them." His point, legally speaking, makes sense. It's an argument, however, that a Washington judge would have a much tougher time making.

 
comments powered by Disqus