On November 4, 2011, Street Sweeper published: Child Pornography Hid Behind XBox LIVE "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″, which reported about the predatory efforts of an online gamer who convinced a ten-year-old boy to send pictures of his genitals in exchange for so-called "cheat codes." Luckily, the juvenile's mother stumbled upon this crime when she discovered cellphone messages to her son from the predator.
No, it's not that computer games are bad, nor that online gaming is bad - it's simply that there are many sickos out there and they find a way to subvert whatever parental protections are in place. Frankly, the games themselves and the online communities are victims too - particularly when they are used as stalking grounds. Moreover, the crimes aren't actually occurring within the context of the games but are usually shifted into more conventional media such as emails, text messages, or cellphones.
The positive thing about publishing these disgusting cases is that many parents have an epiphany - they realize that there are things for them to check on and to learn about. If only one family is saved from such an incident, it would be a wonderful result for all of my blogging efforts.
Of course, in addition to sexual deviants, there are lots of idiots out there. Those oh-so-clever posters who find everything amusing and think that their provocative comments demonstrate their superior intelligence. No matter how terrible the tragedy or violent the crime, such factors just don"t deter the assorted trolls and miscreants who force their way into so many forums and websites. As much of a proponent of First Amendment rights as I am, I'm not publishing their mischevious comments, which I relegated to the trash and permanently deleted. There's nothing funny about child pornography.
Take this recent case as yet another warning of the dangers that lurk in the shadows:
According to federal prosecutors, in February 2008, Wesley William Brandt, 46, of Davenport, FL, posing as a 17-year-old boy, began communicating online with a 13-year-old girl from Colorado. During these communications and using different online personas, Brandt threatened and coerced the girl to produce sexually explicit photographs of herself and her 6-year-old sister. Moreover, Brandt managed to get introduced to the 13-year-old female cousin of the Colorado girl and similarly threatened this second female minor in an effort to coerce her to produce sexually explicit photographs of herself.
In apparent response to the initial unwillingness of his victims to agree to his demands, Brandt threatened to create a public website and post sexually explicit images of them unless they each sent to him the sexually explicit images of themselves.
On Jun 3, 2011, Brandt pleaded guilty in federal court in the Middle District of Florida to three counts of production of child pornography. A search of his home had yielded computers and computer storage devices containing multiple images of child pornography.
For each count, Brandt faced a:
On November 4, 2011, Brandt was sentenced to 90 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for production of child pornography.