Criminal Law - Expert Testimony Not Required to Distinguish Pornographic Images of Real Children from Virtual Children - United States V. Wilder. by Suffolk University Law Review

Criminal Law - Expert Testimony Not Required to Distinguish Pornographic Images of Real Children from Virtual Children - United States V. Wilder.

By Suffolk University Law Review

  • Publication Date: 2009-03-22
  • Genre: Law

Book Synopsis

Preventing child abuse is an important government interest that justifies excluding child pornography, as a class of speech, from First Amendment protection. (1) Nonetheless, the First Amendment continues to protect computer-generated or virtual child pornography because its creation does not harm real children and therefore causes no child abuse. (2) In United States v. Wilder, (3) the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether technical expert testimony is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an image actually depicts a real child. (4) The court reaffirmed its previous decisions that fact-finders are capable of determining whether an image is real or virtual without expert testimony. (5) Federal agents conducting an investigation into online child pornography identified Darren Wilder as a subscriber to a pay-for-membership Web site named "Lust Gallery: A Secret Lolitas Archive" (Lust Gallery), which contained thousands of sexually explicit pictures of children. (6) Lust Gallery subscription files and Wilder's credit-card records showed that in March 2003, Wilder purchased a one-month subscription to Lust Gallery while on supervised release from a previous conviction for child pornography possession. (7) In January 2004, agents obtained and executed a search warrant for Wilder's home, discovering child pornographic images and video files on Wilder's computer, which he had downloaded from Internet newsgroups and Web sites. (8) Wilder's computer also recorded over 14,000 image downloads from the newsgroup "Youth and Beauty," thousands from another newsgroup named "Hussy," and evidence of a posting Wilder made to the newsgroup "alt.sex.young" containing four images of child pornography. (9)

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