Child pornography is serious business

According to Hatboro-Horsham Patch, a high school and youth wrestling coach, 50 years old, has been arrested for use of child pornography on his computer from his Hatboro home. He has been charged with 10 felony counts of child pornography; two felony counts of distributing photos of child sex acts; and two felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility.

After searching the coach's desktop and laptop computers, more than 50 images of child pornography were found.

The investigation

The investigation began with the Department of Homeland Security Child Exploitation Unit in Philadelphia receiving a tip that five child pornography images were uploaded from a particular email address and that the email address was accessed multiple times from an address in Hatboro. Homeland Security then contacted the Montgomery County Detective Bureau that a Hatboro computer was involved in the distribution of child pornography.

Pennsylvania law

As this news story indicates, child pornography is a concerted focus of law enforcement. Pennsylvania law make it an offense for any person to intentionally view or knowingly possess or control any book, magazine, pamphlet, slide, photograph, film, videotape, computer depiction or other material depicting a child under the age of 18 years engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such acts. The statute specifically defines "intentionally views" as the deliberate, purposeful, voluntary viewing of material. The law provides as exception for anyone who accidentally or inadvertently views the pornographic material; thus, a person who thinks they are accessing an adult website and lands in a child site would not be in violation of the law. The law also does not apply if it is used for educational or scientific purposes.

In addition to the viewing or possessing, the law makes it an offence to knowingly sell, distribute, disseminate, display or exhibit such images to others. In all these cases, when a person involved in a prohibited sexual act is alleged to be a child under the age of 18 years, competent expert testimony is sufficient to establish the age of that person.

A first offense under this statute is a third-degree felony, and a second or subsequent offense under this subsection is a second-degree felony.

The child pornography statute in Pennsylvania is entitled Sexual Abuse of Children and there is a similar federal statute entitled Sexual Exploitation of Children. For anyone who has been charged with an offense related to child pornography, it is important to immediately seek the advice of an experienced Pennsylvania attorney.