FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PROTECT Report: Children Betrayed
90% of child pornography offenders receive no prison time
MINNESOTA - The national pro-child, anti-crime group PROTECT released a report today “Children Betrayed,” on the decriminalization of child sexual exploitation crimes in Minnesota. The report calls Minnesota’s sentencing practices “shocking and dramatically out of step with national and state trends,” and finds that Minnesota judges award probation for possession and distribution of child abuse imagery in approximately 90% of all cases.
The group, which has written and helped pass five acts of Congress and child protection laws in over two dozen states is calling out the legislature, the Minnesota Sentencing Guideline Commission (MSGC) and Minnesota judges for decriminalizing child exploitation crimes in their state.
“When we started to look at Minnesota we thought we would find a few bad judges,” said Camille Cooper, co-author of the report and Director of Government Affairs for PROTECT. “Instead we found a complete system-wide failure to hold very dangerous child predators accountable. We were stunned. Minnesota is a dangerous state for an abused child.”
At the heart of the report is the startling discovery that the MSGC sex offender sentencing grid recommends that judges give sentences of probation for possession, dissemination and even production of child abuse imagery (also known as “child pornography”). The report states:
“Investigators, forensic analysts and child exploitation prosecutors have some of the most difficult jobs in America, viewing horrific video and imagery every day of children—often infants and toddlers—being raped, tortured and sexually abused. ... Yet, at the conclusion of 90% of these cases, these front-line heroes know the demoralizing and dangerous truth: Minnesota judges will award these perpetrators with probation.”
In 2008, USA Today reported that law enforcement had seen over 7,000 individual computers in Minnesota trafficking in sadistic images of very young children (including infants and toddlers) being sexually assaulted, including sadistic sexual acts of bondage and torture. A law-enforcement generated map showing Minnesota trafficking activity is included in the report.
The report cites several studies showing that at least 55% of offenders who possess and distribute child pornography are also “hands-on offenders,” committing crimes of sexual violence against children in their own circles of trust and communities across Minnesota.
The report can be found at www.protect.org/sunlight/mn. PROTECT will release a complete report later this month which looks at all Minnesota sex crimes against children and the response to these crimes by social services, law enforcement, prosecutors and the judiciary.