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Capitol Punishment: The Troubling Consequences of Federal Child Pornography Laws

Until Dec. 11, 2013, Jesse Ryan Loskarn was a popular chief of staff for a Tennessee senator. But on that winter day, police broke down the door of his rowhouse in southeast Washington, D.C., and searched for the illegal digital items that had led them there: explicit videos of boys posing nude and engaging in sexual acts.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, Ryan was found dead in his basement.

On Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, there was a twist. Ryan’s mother posted his suicide note online, revealing the great complexity to his story. He wasn’t a faceless headline, wasn’t a cautionary tale, wasn’t a vague story of justice. He became what most people didn’t want him to be: a human being.

What most of us have trouble comprehending — an argument all but forbidden in our current climate — is that Ryan could be understood as a victim himself. For his suicide note reveals a stunning truth: his own history of sexual abuse, one that had far-reaching, complex emotional effects. Full Article

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This well written article, by Andrew Extein, tells a compelling story of one individual charged with possession of child pornography. It is a very sad tale and sadder yet is that there are so many more people who are having the same or a similar experience. The pursuit and punishment of those who possess child pornography has gone too far. The current laws must be changed to avoid these and other tragic consequences in the future.

Janice is right, this is a very good article and it really hits home on many truths the general population refuses to, or just doesn’t want to acknowledge, I don’t know which one it is. I relate to this article on so many levels, except I don’t feel my once promising life has been ruined, I feel it HAS been for the most part destroyed. I thank God I didn’t have to go to prison, I just spent five days in L.A. County jail waiting to go to court. The entire experience was so surreal, in a nightmarish way. I… Read more »

From what I get out of your comments, you are still a gregarious person, as I am not. They can’t take your personality away, but they can turn you into a fugitive for the rest of your life. Under that scenario I can empathize with just wanting to end it all. I’m thinking they would not feel a thing if that happened, It would just harm my family, who have already been harmed enough. Staying alive and fighting is a form of defiance. Let them be the doers of evil. As you said, they will have to answer to their… Read more »

Hi Tim; I apologize for the length of the post; I just needed to blow off a little steam! As for the gregarious person, I am not the same. I made reference to living in the shadows, which for me is not to develop any new relationships (friends, girlfriends, etc) and feeling like I have to hide because I have had just about enough of people believing everything they are told to believe by some politician or journalist and being in a position of having to explain my self, and never being believed. I have 2 friends, and one doesn’t… Read more »

These new laws against us feel like a virtual water boarding. I think I can at last catch my breath, when that suffocating feeling comes back as more water is thrown on.

Q, I definitely agree with you about the “decision to empathize with a person who has caused harm” remark. How can you cause harm to pixels on a screen??? The harm was done when the photos were taken, by the person who molested/assaulted the minor. And then again when the government takes it upon themselves to inform the subject that their photo has been recognized. They could not possibly know otherwise. And, by the way, the subject of the pictures has the option to opt out of notification to avoid the pain of knowing that someone looked at a photo… Read more »

Hi KathieG I’ve always wondered why looking at CP is the only instance where it’s considered to be “harming the victim again” or “forcing them to have to re-live the crime”. If this was true (and it’s not) then why don’t they go after all the people posting and viewing videos of crimes on YouTube and LiveLeak; and there are literally thousands of them showing everything from assaults to murderers, and every other crime against people you can imagine. Why are Google and LiveLeak and all the other sites that host these videos not prosecuted? It’s like taking two apples… Read more »

@Q – You are so right. But it needn’t even be a crime! Anyone remember this guy?

How is it possibly possible that the documentation of something that is legal results in a lengthy prison sentence and a, lets face it, life sentence?

This country is truly bizarre…

After reading the suicide letter from Mr. Laskarn, I sent this letter to his boss. Senator Lamar Alexander 455 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 January 28, 2014 Dear Senator Alexander, I am writing to you in reference to your former aide, Jesse R. Loskarn. I would like to state that Mr. Loskarn’s story is very sad. He obviously was well liked and respected and I wish to offer condolences to you and those who knew and cared for him. I would also like to suggest that perhaps this is the time to consider amending the horrendous sentences and… Read more »

Nice letter KathieG; well done. He is probably scared and too cowardly to take on the lie and present the truth.

Good for you, KathieG, to have gotten that off your chest and hopefully given the Senator some food for thought. I do take issue, however, with your point about CP offenses being punished more harshly than ‘hands on’ offenses, or actual molestation. It is almost as if you were okay with the lifetime punitive restrictions for those? It should be noted that, depending on the state and the specific language in its code (i.e. California), ‘hands on offenses’ and ‘child molestation’ or, better yet, ‘sexual assault’ includes activities like having a relationship with a 16, 17-year old girl, kissing a… Read more »

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