A Child is Called to Testify

The self-righteous know no shame. One of the children who was interrogated by the police in the sex abuse witch hunt described in my previous posts, was a 10-year-old cancer patient. I had befriended her and her family near the end of my 10 years as a volunteer in the pediatric oncology department of Palermo’s children’s hospital. Her tragic life was marked by a diagnosis of leukemia when she was only two years old, followed by the accidental death of her father in a car crash, her remission and then relapse, and another remission and relapse and her own death at 12. Since L. isn’t the only child I’ve known who I must now visit in the cemetery, I don’t think many other people have a similar perspective.

L. was always a beautiful, cheerful little girl, who had mentally adjusted to her misfortunes. I brought her little gifts at the hospital, taught her how to make a purse out of fancy cloth, we played countless card games and board games, but mostly I just kept her company. When she had to undergo an invasive procedure, she asked me to accompany her rather than the full-time professionals. Since I always had my camera with me, she once asked me to take her picture. It was against hospital policy to photograph patients, so I suggested that I let her mother use my camera to take her picture. Even without any hair, she smiled beautifully for the camera, and she even posed for a portrait with me. Since her mother was a widow, I asked for her mom’s telephone number, but then it was L. who sent me silly messages, and even tried to get me fixed up with her aunt. I was willing to meet her aunt, but I would have preferred to marry her mother and adopt L. as my own daughter.

In March 2016 when a fanatical Italian prosecutor ordered the police to search my home and break my doors down if necessary, they confiscated my computer disk and saw the pictures of L. They also confiscated my cell phone and saw the innocent messages L. and I had exchanged. So the police first tracked down and interrogated L.’s adult brother who was like a father figure, and he assured them that I was always nice to the child. Dissatisfied with that lack of evidence of wrongdoing, the prosecutor then ordered the police to interrogate the child herself without any parent or guardian or legal representative present.

At 10 she was in remission, had all of her hair, and was her usual cheerful self. In the video of the interrogation you can see that when the interrogators asked her about me, she too said I was a nice person. They asked her specifically if I had ever done anything that bothered her, and she replied: No. Over the course of an hour the interrogators repeated that question and many other questions over and over again, trying to confuse the child so she would contradict herself. As in the interrogations of the other children, the video was even interrupted so someone could coach or threaten the child while the video was turned off. Eventually the interrogators blatantly suggested that L. was lying to protect me from the state. (Gee, I wonder why?) But the brave child insisted that she had nothing to hide. Finally the interrogators threatened to make her brother come to the police station again to get at the “truth.” L. called their bluff, so they gave up temporarily.

Some time after that despicable interrogation, despite her adult brother’s defense of me, and despite the child’s persistent defense of me, the prosecutor demanded that the child attend a pretrial “taint hearing” to be interrogated again in front of the judge. In other countries the defense requests the taint hearing to determine if the witness has been compromised. But in Italy the prosecutor calls the taint hearing as an excuse to interrogate the child again. Before the date of the taint hearing L. relapsed again and died. Nonetheless, the prosecutor requested that the preliminary judge include the deceased child’s recorded interrogation as evidence for the prosecution. Evidence of what? The more names of witnesses “against” the defendant presented at trial, the more prejudice is created against the accused, and in accusations of child sex abuse where words are the only evidence, prejudice counts more than proof.

Despite the outrageous misconduct of the state in this case, legal experts in Italy have informed me that there is no chance any of the families who are victims of this witch hunt will ever receive any compensation for the stress, indignity, and financial loss we have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous government employees and “victim advocates” who claim to be “protecting” children. There have been several studies suggesting that children are often worse off after state intervention (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, etc.), but that evidence doesn’t stop some “professionals” from recommending coercive interrogations of child witnesses and even taking children away from their parents to be placed in danger of greater harm in state-sponsored group homes.

References

  1. Bagley, Christopher. Children, Sex and Social Policy: Humanistic Solutions for Problems of Child Sexual Abuse. Ashgate, 1997.
  1. Maddock, J. “Child reporting and testimony in incest cases: Comments on the construction and reconstruction of reality.” Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 6, 201-220, 1988. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Martone, M. et al. “Criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse cases.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 20, 5, 457-464, 1996. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Myers, J. (ed.). The backlash: Child protection under fire. Sage, 1994. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Sauzier, M. “Disclosure of child sexual abuse: for better or worse.” Psychiatric clinics of North America, 12, 455-469, 1989. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Saywitz, K. and Nathanseon, R. “Children’s testimony and their perceptions of stress in and out of the courtroom.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 17, 613-622, 1993. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Tedesco, J. and Schnell, S. “Children’s reactions to sex abuse investigation and litigation.” Child Abuse and Neglect, 11, 267-272, 1987. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
  1. Underwager, R. and Wakefield, R. The Real World of Child Interrogation. Charles C. Thomas, 1990. Quoted in Bagley op cit.
Posted in child sexual abuse, children, sex, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Interrogators

In some countries there are guidelines for interrogating child witnesses to avoid the risk of false accusations. The guidelines are important to protect innocent adults from wrongful convictions, as well as protect children from the torment of coercive techniques and the subsequent lifelong guilt feelings for having falsely accused an innocent person. In Italy those guidelines are published by the Italian Criminology Society, but the courts in Italy have declared, in effect, that those guidelines are not binding on interrogators, and judges need not consider repeated marathon questioning, insults, promises, and threats, as evidence that the resulting testimony is unreliable. Witch hunters in the sexual inquisition need to be free from “excessive” regulation.

Here are some specific examples from the interrogations of eight children aged 5 to 14, suspected of being victims of “sexual acts” with an adult. The context of the witch hunt has been described in previous posts. Trigger warning: reading about the vicious mental coercion used on presumed child witnesses may be just as upsetting as reading the details of sexual or physical abuse.

I have long suspected that the attempt to expel me from Italy was necessary to avoid a “foreigner” witnessing the gross misconduct that would follow my departure (a trial in absentia), and the kangaroo court tactics would probably be even worse in my absence. But now that I have chosen to stay and fight, the state’s only possible excuse for what they are doing is to say that Italian law permits prosecutors and judges to commit dishonest tricks to win convictions, hence technically speaking what they are doing is not “misconduct.”

The first rule to avoid false accusations is that during any contact with the interrogators the minor must always be accompanied by a lawyer representing the child, not merely a psychologist or social worker hired by the state for the state’s benefit. Even if a video is made of the interrogation, the child’s lawyer must always be present to witness what is said and done before the video begins and after the video ends. In some cases, as in this one, there was no lawyer, some videos were turned off during the interrogations, and someone spoke to the child while the video was turned off.

Another fundamental rule is to not repeat a question. If a child is asked: “Did that person do anything to bother you?” and the child replies “No.” The interrogators should not repeat: “Nothing at all? Never?” But in this case the interrogators repeated the same question nearly 10 times over a course of hours, expressing more and more frustration, until the child finally changed her answers to please the interrogators and get the torment over with. If there is already objective evidence of abuse (e.g. a photo of the child being abused or an unequivocal medical report), then the interrogators can dispute the child’s claim by saying that they have the photo or the medical report. But if there is no such objective evidence, by repeated questioning the interrogators are inducing the child to invent accusations, embellish, exaggerate, lie.

Another obvious rule is that at the very beginning of the interrogation the child needs to be informed that if she doesn’t remember, she can say so. If the interrogators repeat a question several times the child assumes she has to guess what answer the interrogators want. Incredibly, in this case the witch hunters not only failed to preface some of the interrogations by informing the child of the important option of answering “I don’t remember”, they told her the exact opposite: If a child is telling the truth, then she remembers. Or in other words, if she says she doesn’t remember, then she’s a liar.

The interrogators should also use the accused person’s name (when known). Repeating a question and referring to the accused as “that person” even when the child and interrogators have already mentioned his name, expresses that the interrogators are not merely seeking information about a person who may be innocent. They are communicating that they already know or believe the accused is a bad person, so the child should not answer in any way that contradicts their desires or expectations. When a child says “that person” didn’t do anything to bother her, and then the question is repeated over and over again, the child perceives that the interrogators want her to change her answer, and to please the really scary, arrogant “authorities,” that’s exactly what she does.

When one child witness invented a story about meeting me in an after-school center and supposedly witnessed me touching other children – upon which I was supposedly fired, the interrogators took the child’s claim for granted. It would be very easy for the police to go to the center, check the school files for that year, and find out the child had never even been present at the center when I was there, nor was I ever fired. In fact the child’s older sister had already testified that the younger child was never at the center. But the interrogators merely included the child’s invented story in the public record as if there is no reason to doubt it ever happened.

After hours of non-stop questioning and threats to keep the child in the police station all night, the child was so overwhelmed that she began nodding assent to whatever new accusations the interrogators suggested. When the interrogators read aloud the summary they had printed, the child didn’t even object when they read off statements and accusations that the video shows the child never said. The child was so desperate to get out of the interrogation room as soon as possible that she quickly signed every page of the summary without even reading it.

During the multiple interrogations over the course of several weeks, the child witness said she couldn’t even remember what she had told the interrogators two weeks earlier, but the interrogators expressed no skepticism when the child offered detailed descriptions of conversations and events that supposedly took place three to five years earlier. The interrogators admitted that every time the child talked to them, she added new accusations. If they met with her another 100 times, the child would “reveal” another 100 new instances of abuse.

In the prosecutor’s request for an arrest of the accused, she added a few accusations that weren’t even in the transcript or the summary of the interrogations. The judge who approved the arrest merely repeated the prosecutor’s claims without even checking the transcript or video to verify if the child ever really said such things. After all, prosecutors never lie, exaggerate, or make mistakes, right? As I mentioned in a previous post, the verbatim transcript of an audio recording of an interrogation in 2016 featured hundreds of omissions and errors, in which the transcript reports the exact opposite of what the witness actually said. Even after a “verbatim” transcript was made of some videos in this case, the prosecutor claims some of those videos were damaged and no longer visible. The supposedly damaged videos were not even made available to the defense to verify the “damage.” The accusations were so horrific that the evidence didn’t matter.

Threats should be considered obvious coercion, but in this case the “psychologist” told the child that if she didn’t tell the interrogators “everything,” the child would never leave that room. Even after the child repeatedly assured her tormentors there was nothing else, they kept interrogating her for hours. Nonetheless, the preliminary judge who approved my arrest, quoting the transcripts which he supposedly read, made no mention of the interrogators’ multiple threats.

In the end what upset the interrogators the most was not that the girl claimed she was sexually abused, but rather the problem was her reaction – or lack of a very negative reaction – which contradicted their politically correct expectations. The child didn’t cry or even express any discomfort in describing the “sexual acts with an adult” that supposedly occurred over the course of years. The interrogators insisted that the witness should have “screamed” – assuming the abuse really happened. Instead of interpreting this incongruity as an indication that maybe the abuse didn’t really happen, the witch hunters were furious that they were witnessing a heresy. They believed it was urgent to stop the abuser as soon as possible, to prevent the heresy from spreading, even if that means ignoring the suggestive questioning, contradictory answers, repeated threats, and multiple changes in the child’s story.

When asked why the child never told anybody about the repeated abuse that supposedly occurred over the course of years, the child replied that the abuser threatened to stop coming if she told. Huh? If the monster really did such horrible things, then not coming back anymore would be a reward not a threat. In cases where the abuser is a parent or guardian so abandonment would be truly terrifying for a child, then such a threat would be credible. But is this case the accused was completely outside the child’s family.

Some people assume that even if paid by the state, a psychologist or social worker will protect a child witness from mistreatment by the state. But in reality some psychologists and social workers are more cruel than anybody else. Although most people are afraid to say it out loud, western society is obviously in the grip of an international hysteria so terrifying that few people have the courage to criticize it.

Eventually one child witness appeared before a judge and recanted. She admitted she had invented her incredible stories because she was afraid of the police. So the judge replied in an angry, threatening tone: “This is very serious.” The “professional” psychologist chimed in: “What you are saying now is crazy.” The judge added “You made hundreds of pages of accusations. It’s impossible that they aren’t true.” Upon which the terrified child immediately retracted her recantation, to the smiling approval of her state protectors.

In reality the judge’s response was illogical as well as simply untrue. The mere quantity of accusations does not make them likely to be true. Worse, there are NOT hundreds of pages of accusations; there are hundreds of pages of attempts by the interrogators to coerce the witness to make accusations, as well as arguments back and forth in which the child attempted to resist the coercion. The interrogators indulged in repeated, page-long monologues browbeating the child. There are actually very few “accusations.” What is really very serious is that the judge ignored the hundreds of pages of coercive questioning, and instead perceived the handful of accusations as occupying “hundreds of pages.”

Ideally justice means not merely protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty. Justice also requires that proper rules of procedure be followed to determine if someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. False accusations are possible even in the absence of coercion by the interrogators. But when the rules of proper procedure are not respected, false accusations are much more likely and the resulting show trail is similar to vigilante street justice. In the emotionally charged field of child sex abuse allegations, officially sanctioned vigilante justice has become the norm.

Posted in children, sex, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Proper Witch Hunt

As has been tragically demonstrated on numerous occasions, some government employees are so drunk with power that they will mercilessly persecute innocent people and even innocent children. Some well-known cases of witch hunts over accusations of child sex abuse have been described in a previous post. Here I will add my incredible personal experience, which I introduced in the first part Kangaroo Court in Session.

During my trial for the charge of “production and possession of child pornography,” and a week after my expert witness testified that my video Buddy Massage contains no genital nudity, nor any other suggestion of “sexual” intent, the prosecutor became so desperate she began multiple, coerced interrogations of eight children who have known me for years, and who the police were able to identify through the data on my hard drive and cell phone they had confiscated. The timing of the interrogations was certainly no accident. The prosecutor had probably planned to wait until my video was adjudicated to be “child pornography” by the trial judge, in order to use that judgment as a threat against the families who participated in my video. But after the testimony of my expert witness a conviction was no longer likely, so the prosecutor needed something new to prejudice the judge, such as a (coerced) confession by a child “victim” of “sexual acts.”

None of the parents or children went to the police spontaneously; they were apparently carted off to the police station by the officers without prior warning, and without an opportunity for legal representation. All of the children were interrogated without their parents present either, and the interrogations were all videoed – although at least some of those videos would disappear so the judge or defense could never see them. All of the children began the “interview” by defending me as a nice person, and some even repeated their nice words more than once despite the skeptical reactions of the interrogators. At some point during the coercive questioning, two of the children (13 at the time of the interrogations), began to change their stories. By no coincidence, those two children were the girls who had participated in my video and whose mothers were at risk of prosecution themselves as possible “accomplices” in the production of “child pornography.”

For example, one girl was held in the police station for five hours. Her mother was not allowed in the room with the child, but the mother reportedly did try to enter the room repeatedly while the police blocked the door. The child was eventually interrogated on two other days for a total of about ten hours. My attorney had to specifically request a copy of the videos and verbatim transcripts two months before the “taint hearing”, and we received only some of the videos – and only two weeks before the hearing.

From the videos it is clear that at least one of the child “witnesses” was the victim of the worst kind of interrogation techniques used for adult criminals. The interrogators lied to the child, and when she didn’t give them the desired answers, the interrogators repeated the questions, called the child a liar (!), and pointed out contradictions only when they didn’t reinforce the accusations.

It is obvious that the girl was encouraged to accuse me of something, anything, with implicit or explicit threats against her and her mother. When the topic of the massage video came up, the girl admitted her mother had signed the release consenting to the video and giving me permission to publish it, but she was clear when she assured her interrogators that her mother shared no responsibility for that “crime.” Only the photographer was culpable for the “pornography.”

Over the next few weeks the girl was interrogated again and again, changing her story multiple times until even the interrogators said her story was not credible, threatened to keep her in the police station all night, make her come back another five times or ten times, and haul her mother into court “which would not be very nice.” The girl cried and repeatedly begged her tormentors to stop, and understandably accommodated them by increasing the severity of her accusations until she claimed I was sexually abusing her in her bedroom on multiple occasions over the course of years – all while her mother was busy in the kitchen. When the interrogators were satisfied they had enough “evidence” to put me away for 20 or 30 years, they finally stopped.

Although required by law, the prosecutor never deposited some of the videos with the court. When I read the index of all the documents deposited, I noticed immediately that the last video deposited was eight days before the final interrogation. No other video was ever deposited, until my lawyer specifically requested the videos a year and a half later. The transcript of that missing video does include the interrogators’ openly expressed skepticism when the girl’s story displeased them, and the threats described above, though there may also be aspects of the interrogators’ actions that words leave out: the angry or sarcastic tone of their voices when she denied abuse, or the approving and congratulatory tone when she invented a new accusation, the interrogators’ gestures and postures, the psychologist caressing the child’s back during the questioning, etc. which can communicate more than words.

The interrogators conveniently ignored the girl’s contradictions that made the accusations incredible, and other unlikely aspects of her accusations, e.g. she told her mother at some point about my “sexual acts,” and the latter kicked me out but eventually let me come back and be alone with the girl in her bedroom again! At another point the girl in an apparent rage recanted her impossible accusations, saying that I didn’t do anything, which the interrogators refused to believe. At another point, after having claimed I routinely massaged her while she always wore only a top and panties, the top disappeared on one occasion without explanation. The interrogators expressed no skepticism at all as long as the girl continued accusing me of something.

The other girl who participated in the video years before had less to say, though she likewise began by defending me and the massage video as normal. But she suddenly changed her story, accusing me of brief sexual contact on one occasion, which she claims she told her mother about and the latter kicked me out. The problem with this story is that there is documented photographic proof as well as phone records that we continued friendly contacts for months after the supposed abuse and revelation, and even a year after the supposed crime.

The mother even allowed me to take her daughters out by myself months after the supposed abuse, and the girl herself even left me alone with her younger sister. The prosecutor has that evidence, but expressed no skepticism about the girl’s impossible story. This is all in the interrogators’ summary, since there is no transcript. The video of this girl’s interrogation was “damaged” and never deposited, so there is no way to verify what the girl actually said, let alone the questions and comments of the interrogators. There is a “verbatim” transcript of only the end of the interrogation, after which the video was “damaged” and disappeared.

In addition to the mass hysteria over child sex abuse, which is supposedly usually seriously harmful and even “worse that death” in many cases, the prosecutor in this case has a personal incentive to destroy me at any cost. As described in my previous posts, the prosecutor searched my home illegally on the off chance that the police might find evidence of “sexual acts with children,” and when that fishing expedition didn’t find evidence of any crimes, that created a need to invent the accusation that my innocent video Buddy Massage is “child pornography.”

Due to the lack of evidence of any sexual content or intent in that video, and thanks to the massive evidence against that accusation, that video would have been exonerated if it were not for the prosecutor’s desperate efforts to protect herself from a charge of prosecutorial misconduct. Rather than risk damaging her career by admitting she made a mistake, the prosecutor has now dug herself an even deeper hole by coercing the minors who participated in the video to invent false accusations against me in order to protect their mothers. I have little faith in the Italian justice system, but the more the prosecutor persists in this spectacle, the more her misconduct and unfitness for her role become obvious.

Posted in children, sex, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Kangaroo Court in Session

The more lies are told, the more precious the truth becomes. After years of criticizing the pathetic mass hysteria over child pornography and child sex abuse – in this blog as well as in my other publications – I’ve become a victim myself of a witch hunt involving false accusations and kangaroo-court judgments. As the cynics say: No good deed goes unpunished.

I was generous in calling the popular focus on sex crimes “hysteria”, because the behavior of some individual witch hunters now seems more coldly psychopathic than hysterical. As is typical in a witch hunt, the focus of the hunters is to find any possible evidence consistent with a casual presumption of guilt, while completely ignoring clear and voluminous evidence of innocence. In my case the hunters hid and distorted the evidence that already exists, and having gotten away with that they are now inventing new evidence.

Trigger warning: don’t continue reading this if you have a weak stomach. For more detailed background information see “Photography vs. Pornography,” “Photography vs. Pornography 2,” and “Photography vs. Pornography 3″ before reading the gory details of my current battle below.

I’m describing official, public documentation that certain government employees didn’t merely neglect their duty to be fair and impartial, they indulged in gross misconduct. Despite the indignity, grief and financial losses I’ve already suffered at the hands of certain “civil servants,” I’ll try to focus on their behavior rather than attacking their individual characters, in the hope of preventing similar tragedies in the future.

To pick up the story since my last detailed description in the links above, the preliminary judge in Palermo didn’t approve the prosecutor’s request to arrest me, because my video “Buddy Massage” depicts a normal massage – not any indecent behavior. But in his written decision the judge referred to a law that had been superseded by a recent Supreme Court decision. So the prosecutor appealed to a higher court, which used that technical oversight as an excuse to finally approve a house arrest and gag order, which instantly destroyed my professional reputation as a teacher, and resulted in an immediate and complete loss of income. By the way, that preliminary judge has since been promoted to the very court that overturned his decision.

The higher court’s decision repeated uncritically the same unfounded assertions as the prosecutor that were even contrary to the concrete evidence, as if the higher court didn’t even examine the so-called evidence – they merely copied and pasted the prosecutor’s distorted accusations word-for-word. Typically, the sensationalist mainstream media reported my house arrest using stock footage of police cars racing through the night with sirens wailing and lights flashing, even though there was no such drama in my case. In reality I was discretely notified of the house arrest during normal office hours by plain clothes officers in an unmarked car.

The original motive for requesting a “precautionary arrest” was supposedly to prevent me from influencing possible witnesses against me. But after being completely free to do just that for nearly a year (during the prosecutor’s initial request and appeal process), I was suddenly isolated from the world for more than 100 days until another judge finally revoked the arrest.

During my isolation I volunteered to be interrogated by the prosecutor with my lawyers present, naively hoping I might end the witch hunt as soon as possible, but the three-hour inquisition did me no good and was even used against me later. I refused to name the families who participated in my video, to protect them from the witch hunters, but the prosecutor was not interested in protecting any families. An audio recording was made of the interrogation, but the written transcript of that recording featured hundreds of omissions (marked “…”), and errors – some of which reported the exact opposite of what I actually said. The same person who did such a despicable job of transcribing that audio recording, is still transcribing new recordings.

Only the pathetically inaccurate transcript was entered as evidence in the eventual trial; despite my lawyer informing the judge about the deceitful “evidence,” the original audio recording was never subpoenaed. This typical example of distorting the supposed evidence of guilt would be repeated by the prosecution again and again as standard operating procedure. A spin-doctor couldn’t have done a more effective job.

I also agreed to be interviewed by a state-appointed psychologist, but since my lawyers were not present I asked if I could make an audio recording of the interview myself. The psych refused, so I then asked if my personal physician could be present as a witness during the interview. The psych refused that too, so I said in that case I will consent to be interviewed only in front of the judge. The psych refused that too, and in his report to the prosecutor he falsely claimed that I had requested making a “video” of the interview, and he neglected to mention my request for my physician’s presence. The psych also neglected to mention my offer to be interviewed in front of the judge.

During the 100+ days of my isolation no new evidence was found, so the destruction of my reputation and loss of income were completely useless as well as being unjustified. In theory, a precautionary arrest is not supposed to be a form of punishment before conviction, but in this case that’s exactly what it was.

After I was free again I found out there were hundreds of pages of frivolous official documents filed against me, which I then studied carefully and which have been summarized in the previous blog posts linked to above. The prosecutor then requested an immediate trial, as if she had such a strong case, which was also reported in the mass media, but no “me too” accusations were forthcoming – despite my extensive experience with hundreds of Italian children during my 30 years as a teacher here. I contacted Palermo’s major newspaper and offered to describe what the prosecutor failed to mention, but I received no reply. At that point I could have fled the country and disappeared, but then a conviction in absentia would be automatic, and I would no longer be present to document the outrages the prosecutors and judges are getting away with.

My lawyers hired a technical consultant to view my completed video preserved online (not visible to the general public but available to any investigators), and he testified that “Buddy Massage” does not contain any genital nudity whatsoever – an essential element for a video to be judged pornographic in Italy. The judge ignored that evidence and eventually even contradicted it – without any counter-evidence whatsoever.

There was no jury in the brief trial (by Italian standards), which lasted for a year due to repeated postponements rather than extensive proceedings, and despite the concrete evidence to support an acquittal as well as a need to investigate prosecutorial misconduct, I was then wrongfully convicted of possession and production of “child porn.” The trial judge sentenced me to four years and two months imprisonment and a fine of 18,000 Euros. Note the nearly identical amount of my fine and Amanda’s Knox’s very recent award for damages by the European Court of Human Rights.

The sentence also ordered the destruction of all my property that was confiscated, even though the vast majority of the confiscated material has nothing to do with child photography – let alone pornography, and even includes the property of an innocent friend, my privileged correspondence with my lawyers, and some irreplaceable manuscripts. The sentence is clearly intended to destroy the evidence of my innocence, as well as censor my writing.

I soon discovered that the prosecutor had prepared for the possibility of an acquittal by actively prejudicing the judge months beforehand. During the trial the prosecutor informed the judge that new charges were in progress, thereby introducing new evidence to prejudice the judge in this case – which was not supposed to be allowed once the trial had already begun. In contrast, the judge refused to accept new evidence for the defense, namely the recent publication in Palermo’s major daily newspaper praising the images of nude children by local photographer Letizia Battaglia.

The blatant misconduct in this prosecution is worse than what Amanda Knox suffered, and may be a form of revenge for her eventual vindication, since many Italians are convinced she was guilty of murder despite the lack of concrete evidence against her. Many Italians believe whatever the grossly distorted Italian language media tell them. The government employees in my case seem to be saying: “You think Amanda Knox got railroaded? You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Inexplicably, even to my lawyers, the trial judge declared in another document published the same day as my sentencing, that my video is NOT pornographic! Apparently the trial judge had already begun composing my acquittal, when the new accusations (just as unfounded as the previous charges) changed his mind – but he neglected to remove his words: “The video is not pornographic” – stated twice!) Naturally, we are appealing the conviction to a higher court, and we’ll go all the way to Italy’s highest court if necessary. Complete details of the judge’s sentence are available in Italian here. (English translation and updates to come if I’m still alive and free in the near future).

Despite my efforts to protect the identity of the families who participated in my video, the prosecutor eventually managed to identify and interrogate the children and parents – with the assistance of another state-appointed “psychologist” who was even more vicious than the prosecutor. The hunters weren’t content with mistreating an adult defendant, so they proceeded to mistreat innocent child witnesses.

The gruesome farce of new “testimony” based on terrifying the children with threats, repeated marathon questioning (while the children begged the interrogators to stop), inaccurate transcripts, and missing videos of the interrogations, is a textbook case of psychopathic injustice. When we requested copies of the missing videos and missing transcripts, the prosecutor said “Sure”, and then promptly removed ALL the videos, now claiming that some of the videos are “damaged” and no longer visible.

From the texts we were able to get our hands on, at least one child was interrogated for hours, on multiple days, without being informed of her rights. When the child didn’t say what the interrogators wanted, the prosecutor and “psychologist” took turns badgering and brow-beating the child, calling her “a liar,” and threatening to arrest her mother and keep the child in the police station all night. Eventually the child obediently changed her story a few times to make them stop. In practice, the rules and procedures for interrogating child witnesses in this country seem to be the same as for interrogating adult criminals. The prosecutor also attempted to solicit false testimony from Rom (gypsies), calling them “Slavs”.

The judge in this case has turned a blind eye to the prosecutor’s blatant misconduct. It may seem incredible, but Italy is a country where, until fairly recently, even anonymous letters could be entered as “evidence” in a criminal trial. But some Italian prosecutors and judges today show little interest in rising above the shameful past. Some Italian prosecutors devote their precious time and scarce financial resources to investigate children, pregnant mothers, and old men. In other developed countries there would be a risk of damaging people’s faith in the justice system, but since most Italians already have zero faith in their justice system, rogue prosecutors and judges have nothing to lose.

Throughout this spectacle my own suspicion has been that despite the rhetorical urgency of the prosecution, there might actually be method in the madness. Rather than being a constructive, routine attempt to enforce reasonable laws against (real) child porn, the primary motive for persecuting me may be to censor my research and publications that expose the selfish political opportunists and financial profiteers in the child abuse prevention and rescue business. I also have a bad habit of publicizing my scandalous hypothesis on the possible cause of widespread sexual dysfunction in women.

How ironic that the prosecutor criticized my published hypothesis on female sexual dysfunction  as “lacking scientific confirmation,” while it is precisely this kind of witch hunt that has a chilling effect on academic freedom, and makes it politically impossible to obtain funding for scientific research to improve our understanding of human sexuality. In any case my writing should not be a legal issue at all, since Italy’s constitution explicitly guarantees freedom of expression to everyone.

The prosecutor and judge cited the mere titles of my publications, without any official translation of the English content specifying how it is supposedly relevant to the accusation that my video “Buddy Massage” was sexually motivated. Both the prosecutor and trial judge have ignored the evidence that peer massage is now practiced in schools in several countries – including Italy!

In this part of the world there is clear interest in defending Catholic Italy from repeated pedophile scandals, and one way to do that is to accuse non-Catholics and non-Italians of being “worse” child abusers than they are themselves. I’m not saying this with any malice against the Italian people in general. Quite the contrary, some of the warmest people in the world are to be found in this country. But there are also individual hypocrites who pretend to be Christians promoting justice while in reality they bear false witness with impunity.

At no time has the prosecutor or trial judge ever described my numerous publications promoting children’s health and safety education, or my repeated published references to the vast majority of child deaths and serious injuries due to physical abuse and neglect. Quite the contrary, the trial judge merely parroted the same unfounded accusations made by the prosecutor, without any attempt to confirm whether or not the accusations were true. For example, a claim they are in love with is that I supposedly advocate unlimited sexual freedom for children, but in reality I have repeatedly published the advice that parents should have the opportunity to consent to and monitor children’s play. I have specifically advised against un-monitored sex play as potentially dangerous and destructive. The audio narration of “Buddy Massage” also says it clearly: parental consent and monitoring.

As is typical of hysteria, the witch hunters show little interest in preventing thousands of child deaths and serious physical injuries every year, but there is great enthusiasm for the urgent crusade against accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education. The witch hunters can’t legally censor me directly, they can only destroy me financially if not physically, to silence my continued criticism of the conventional belief that virtuous women and girls are “uninterested” in healthy sexual function. How dare I question the cherished belief that young ladies supposedly need to be “protected” from accurate, balanced, and comprehensive information about their own bodies.

Also ironic is that Italy is a country so strongly identified with the history of art, including nude art. Even in the city of Palermo there are numerous paintings, sculptures and statues of nude children on public display. But even though European and American researchers like professor Alfred Kinsey, doctor William Masters, and many others have been challenging primitive prudery since the 1950s, such courageous scientists have not yet had any significant impact on some government employees in modern Italy.

This story continues: https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/a-proper-witch-hunt/ and here: https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/the-interrogators/

Posted in child sexual abuse, children, photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Year in Review

Total views in 2018: 41,747. Total all-time views: 142,185 as of December 31, 2018. Thanks for your comments, views and likes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photography vs. Pornography 3

Warning: If you think Stephen King’s stories are scary, never read an Italian horror story. Essential background to this real-life horror story is at Photography vs. Pornography and especially Photography vs. Pornography 2.

The prosecutor’s order of March 2016 to violate the privacy of my home and computer, and break my doors down if necessary, was based on the blatantly false claim that the Italian police had received “numerous complaints” suggesting I am guilty of sexual acts with children. But in reality the Italian police had not received even a single complaint of any such thing.

What the police had received was a single report three years earlier from an unemployed Italian social worker who was neither a parent nor a representative of any child, and who had a personal grudge against me. That witch hunter claimed my web site www.GirlBecomesWoman.com was offering “child pornography” directly to the public for 20 Euros. That false and hysterical report was apparently influenced by my website being in a foreign language (English), and after an investigation and presumably translation the Italian detectives correctly concluded that there was no evidence of any crime being committed. My photo-documentary is not erotic, sexual, or pornographic in any way, and in addition it was offered free and only to readers of my eBook Real Child Safety on how to protect kids from the most frequent and most deadly dangers in childhood. Far from being available “directly,” in order to view the documentary RCS readers were also required to fill out a 20-item questionnaire to prove they read the book and don’t have prurient interests.

Two years later the police also received a second report from another local hysteric (not a parent or child) that said I had asked a parent to let their kids participate in my video project Buddy Massage, a request which a higher court later ruled is not a crime either, and which has nothing to do with sexual acts with children in any case. But when a prosecutor needs to create drama to justify an illegal search, exaggerations are legally permissible. Despite no further reports about me a year later the new prosecutor falsely claimed these two old, frivolous reports were “numerous complaints” that supported the suspicion of “sexual acts with children,” and which necessitated an urgent search of my home and computer in the hope of finding some evidence of monstrous crimes. As described in my previous post, that fishing expedition would be sadly disappointed, but it created an eventual need to cover up the illegality of the unfruitful search.

After the search the new prosecutor’s request for an urgent “precautionary arrest” of a working school teacher for so-called “child pornography” featured such an outrageous and distorted presentation of the facts that no rational person in a civilized country could expect such a request to be approved. But since the request was private it would only be read and decided by a preliminary judge – without any legal defense let alone any input from the accused. Once (if) the request for arrest is approved, the accused is immediately brought to jail. So the punishment has been executed regardless of actual guilt or innocence. No eventual acquittal or financial compensation could ever undo such immediate and fatal damage to a teacher’s reputation. Despite no need for an urgent violation of my privacy, let alone any reasonable justification for an arrest, the prosecutor’s strategy was clear: Shoot first, and ask questions later.

According to Italian law the prosecutor, in contrast, risks no punishment at all if she makes unfounded or false accusations against an innocent person, unless there is proof she received money to do so. There is no law against prosecutor misconduct regardless of all the evidence in the world. But it is a very serious crime for anyone to question a prosecutor’s integrity for any reason (after all, the prosecutor is not even an individual but an “impersonal entity”). This is the Italian government’s procedural “justice” in action.

The prosecutor’s request for an arrest dated March 31, 2016, asserted that I had produced “two videos” in which there was genital nudity of a minor. More accurately, I had produced several instructional video clips of two pairs of kids illustrating a normal massage, at different times and in different places, with different cameras, for a total of about 30 minutes of footage in which all of the children’s genital areas and buttocks were covered, except for one brief scene in which a five-year-old boy got up to turn over. That momentary scene was obviously incidental and unintended, so I cut and deleted that scene from the final video which has titles and credits, audio narration, and background music (about 15 minutes long). For that supposed “crime” the new prosecutor felt my teaching career should be destroyed immediately and I should face a possible sentence of 6 to 12 years imprisonment.

By the way, the prosecutor’s request to the preliminary judge completely neglected to mention the final version of the video on my computer which does not include the momentary nudity, and which the undercover police could have obtained previously online (as outlined above) without violating my privacy. The new prosecutor also neglected to mention that out of approximately 20,000 photos and videos on my computer, only 2 photos were of children with genital nudity, and those images were in completely innocent contexts: a nine-year-old taking a shower, and a two-year-old standing up straight in her play room. I have also made hundreds of non-nude portraits of children, most of which are openly published online and are completely normal child portraits, not erotic or sexual in any way.

The prosecutor’s request for an arrest resorted to vague and misleading language to promote drama, and prejudice the judge against the accused. For example, to hide the fact that so few images contained genital nudity, the prosecutor’s request repeatedly referred to numerous images that were “nude or semi-nude,” even though semi-nude photography (breast nudity) is not prohibited by Italian law and hence is irrelevant. Nonetheless, the prosecutor tried to mislead the judge by falsely claiming there was sufficient material for an eventual aggravated sentence due to the massive quantity (!) of illegal “child pornography.”

The prosecutor also cited the titles of my other works in English (Real Child Safety and my novel Revolt of the Children), as if the mere existence of the titles is further evidence that supports the charge of my photographs and video being “sexually motivated,” when in reality the content of those published books flatly contradicts the charges. She also eventually cited the title of one of my blog posts on Emotional Incest as if that were also supporting evidence for the charges, but the content of that post also flatly contradicts the accusations. I wonder if the prosecutor actually read what I wrote about emotional incest and didn’t understand what she read, or if she read it did she merely dislike the ideological criticism I expressed and then attempt to exploit the law to destroy me financially and thereby promote her personal ideology?

A similar trick was used to dismiss my 10 years as a well-known volunteer in a pediatric cancer ward because – according to the prosecutor – my hundreds of days of volunteering with dying patients were merely a supposed excuse to photograph the children. The truth is quite the contrary: despite countless opportunities in 10 years I had never photographed any child patients, except for one photo of a few fully-clothed patients viewed seated from behind (faces not shown) being visited by Santa Claus.

The prosecutor dramatically described the very massage portrayed by the children in my video as “strongly erotic and evocative,” since scenes were prolonged and repeated (standard practice in video production), and since the ears and neck are “erogenous zones,” and hence the kids are “simulating a sexual act.” According to that dramatic rhetoric, millions of children who fondle the ears of their dogs every day are simulating sexual acts with their dogs, and the 2003 Hollywood production of Peter Pan (in which a dog licks the ears of a naked boy) clearly contains a pornographic portrayal of a sexual act.

The prosecutor also cited my hypothesis on the cause of clitoral erectile dysfunction in women (described in a few of my 50+ blog posts), as if my photo-documentary Girl Becomes Woman and my video Buddy Massage were motivated by a supposed attempt to “confirm” my “theory.” But my photo-documentary predated my hypothesis, and hence the prosecutor’s claim is logically impossible. Worse, how could a photo-documentary or video that contain no images whatsoever of female genitals possibly confirm a hypothesis about clitoral erectile function? How could a prosecutor in a civilized country make such a bizarre claim and expect it to be taken seriously?

Those incredible assertions are not marked fiction; they are in signed, official documents now available as a public record. I will be generous and interpret that series of pathetically distorted accusations as a predictable effect of the mass hysteria over child porn. When some people hear the words “child” and “nude” in the same sentence, they cease to perceive and reason like mature adults, and the required rules of legal procedure become irrelevant. But some readers who are less generous might see this prosecution as a clear and deliberate scam to promote the personal or political agenda of an individual prosecutor or her “impersonal” office.

A prosecutor is supposed to look for evidence of innocence as well as possible evidence of guilt, to avoid incriminating an innocent person. But consistent with the typical “urgency” of a witch hunt, there is no indication of any such balanced approach in the request for arrest. Despite all the concrete evidence of non-sexual motives for my published work, and despite me living, teaching and volunteering in Italy for 25 years, the prosecutor could not find a single positive word to say about me.

Three months after the new prosecutor submitted her secret request for an arrest, the preliminary judge replied. The judge reviewed the recent legal history of child pornography, which requires that images of nude children must be demonstrated to be for sexual goals. But despite the prosecutor’s one-sided and distorted summary of hundreds of pages of investigator’s reports that completely ignored evidence in my favor (e.g. repeated surveillance on the street with nothing unusual observed), and no reports from any supposed victims (a form that is supposed to list the victim(s) of the crime is left blank because there is no victim), the judge correctly concluded that my video depicts a normal massage, not an erotic practice or sexual act, nor any activity inappropriate for minors.

The judge also replied to the prosecutor’s ludicrous claim that I was found to be in possession of a “massive quantity” of child porn: also unfounded. He noted the technician’s report that a handful of nude artistic portraits of adolescents were on the deleted portion of my disk – deleted by me long before the search and only recovered by the computer technician after my disk was confiscated, so they were not even in my actual “possession.” Hence, the judge naturally rejected the prosecutor’s request for an arrest.

The preliminary judge incorrectly repeated the prosecutor’s false claim that my video was somehow related to my “absurd sexual theories,” apparently because the English language of my unrelated writing on female sexual dysfunction is a bit too complicated for foreign speakers to fully comprehend; only brief words or phrases quoted out of context were cited by the prosecutor against me. In the prosecutor’s rush to destroy my teaching career as soon as possible and at any cost, no comprehensive official translation of any of my writing was ever submitted by the prosecutor to substantiate any accusations.

Why is nudity censored with such hysterical urgency? A little lesson on Italian history might be helpful. Censorship has been a fundamental characteristic of Italian culture going all the way back to the ancient Romans, who not only required that conquered people pay tribute (i.e. taxes) to the invaders. Conquered peoples were also required to worship Roman gods, which created the resulting diaspora of the ancient Hebrews who refused to disobey their own religion. The Romans could not tolerate any deity whose chosen people were not Romans.

The Roman Catholic Church has continued the worship of censorship for centuries, eventually imitating the Romans in using torture and execution as punishment for talking too much. The confused theology of Tomaso Aquino (Thomas Aquinas) was that people’s sexual behavior should be like sheep and other farm animals that only copulate in order to reproduce. The primitive Catholic/Christian dogma became so entrenched in the West that eventually even secular laws have attempted to censor nudity and enforce the primitive ideal of saintly human sheep. Censorship, prosecution, and punishment of early scientific researchers who contradicted church doctrine are well-known.

Statues of nude men with their genitals chopped off (thanks to a particularly fanatical pope) can still be seen throughout Italy today.  Long after the Dark Ages there was an old joke in Ethiopia that began: Under the Italian colonialists the rule was “Eat but Don’t Talk.” The Italian fascists likewise made censorship a central goal of their strategy and tactics. Many of the ministers chosen for the first fascist government were journalists. The fascists made censorship more scientific, such that Hitler called the Italian dictator Mussolini “my teacher.”

While Article 21 of the Italian Constitution now promises freedom of expression “to everyone,” widespread censorship and even self-censorship exists and is exemplified by the popular, slavish observance of traditions. On certain days of the year everybody has to eat a certain dish, or visit the cemetery, etc., even though many Italians don’t even know why some traditions exist. In many small towns girls must dress modestly and are still chaperoned like they were in cities a hundred years ago. There is still widespread faith in the Victorian belief that sex is so dangerous as to be unspeakable. A cynical but probably typical Italian teacher and mother of a daughter once confided to me: “All little girls are whores.” Is that why certain individuals and impersonal entities feel it’s so important to try to exploit secular laws to censor even partial nudity or discussions of sex education and sexual health? (To be continued.)

Posted in censorship, children, nudity, sex | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Photography vs. Pornography 2

Please read my previous post Photography vs. Pornography for essential background to this story. I’ve already cited several examples of child nudity in the history of art and photography in another previous post Top Freedom, and in the interest of cultural literacy I should not neglect the sphere of fiction as it relates to child nudity and sexuality in my criminal case.

All pornography is fictional (i.e. staged and dramatized rather than realistic), but not all nude or sexual fiction is pornographic. It is an important distinction that the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged for many years, but a few hysterical individuals still have difficulty comprehending.

Ancient Roman literature that survives includes Petronius’ satire “Satyricon,” about a romantic pederast couple. In addition to describing orgies, the story contains a scene in which adults stage a mock wedding between two children, who are then encouraged to “consummate” their relationship. Much later Italy’s premiere poet, Dante, fell in love with Beatrice when she was eight years old. Although Dante was only nine, when I was nine growing up in the U.S. we boys fell in love with more mature girls who were sexually developed – not eight-year-olds.

In the distant past child prostitution existed rather openly in Europe, and there are famous cases of European teachers who married their former pupils. But feminists in Victorian times campaigned to raise the age of consent. One of the most famous writers of children’s literature is the Englishman Lewis Carroll, author of “Alice in Wonderland,” which has been translated into 174 languages. Not many people are aware that the author (real name: Prof. Reverend Charles Dodgson) was also a photographer, some of whose thousands of images of children (some nude) are currently in the collections of major university libraries. Multiple biographies have failed to find any evidence that his images might have been sexually motivated.

George Bernard Shaw’s story “Pygmalion,” set in London, has a father confront a professor who has established a live-in relationship with the man’s young daughter, so the dad asks the prof for five pounds in compensation. When the prof insists that his intentions are perfectly honorable, the father replies: “I’m sure your intentions are honorable. If I thought for a moment that your intentions weren’t honorable, I’d ask for ten pounds.”

A German author of fiction little-known outside Europe was Frank Wedekind, whose short story “Mine-Haha” (1903), praised by Leon Trotsky, was made into a film in French by Lucille Hadzihalilovic: “Innocence” (2004). It features numerous scenes of top-free little girls, as well as one scene where a girl about 13 is shown completely nude (front and rear) standing in a bathtub.

The most radical contribution to western culture that was related to child sexuality was by another European, the Russian-born author Vladimir Nabokov, who became an American citizen in middle age but actually spent the beginning and end of his life in Europe. His English novel “Lolita” was first published in France because the author had great difficulty finding an American publisher. At one point the frustrated writer threw his manuscript into the trash, but fortunately the ms was salvaged by his level-headed wife. The novel has now sold over 50 million copies, translated into 20 languages, and is the subject of two major movies so far (the first by Stanley Kubrick).

The story is about a very young French boy who lost his first love to typhus, and the trauma caused him to become fixated on very young girls for the rest of his life. It’s a tragic story in every way, but the work of a master story-teller that has been called one of the greatest love stories of the 20th Century. The scandalous plot was joked about on American TV when the novel was first published in the 1950s, and has since been studied by countless university scholars. The author was the subject of an exhaustive two-volume biography (which found no evidence that the happily married father might have been a pedophile in real life), and even Nabokov’s remarkable wife is the subject of a serious biography. The late Nabokov’s only son is an opera lover who chose to make his home in Venice.

I was surprised to discover that in Italy there is considerable interest in Nabokov’s work, as evidenced by the publication of an Italian translation of the author’s screenplay for the first movie version (certainly a marginal work even to most serious readers), as well as a spin-off novel by an Italian author: “Lo’s Diary.” The Italian authoress of that story retells the tragic tale from the young girl’s point of view, but it isn’t a politically correct version. Like the original, precocious Lolita who the old perv claims seduced him, “Lo” says openly she wants to seduce the older man. Unlike the Biblical story of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19, the pathetic Frenchman wishes to seduce his unfortunate American step-daughter, and the Italian-style Lo conspires with the old perv.

Nowadays the original “Lolita” is considered one of the most politically incorrect stories to dare mention in public, at the risk of immediate personal attacks (usually by individuals who never even read the novel), as if no normal person would pronounce such a “disgusting” name except in the context of patting yourself on the back for hating the story and it’s author.

Louis Malle’s movie “Pretty Baby” (1977) portrays a child prostitute growing up in a bordello in New Orleans in 1917. Unlike the Lolita movies, the main character in this film is played by a real child, Brooke Shields, including some nude scenes. (She may have been wearing a body suit for the lower half of her body.) Brooke became a famous child model after posing nude in a bathtub for photographs by Gary Gross.

My own novel Revolt of the Children was rejected by numerous European publishers so after nearly 10 years of searching I published it myself. My story is an unflattering portrayal of Italy after World War Two, in which poor kids rebel against physical, sexual and emotional abuse by an Italian priest and other insensitive adults in the land of “close families.”

The creation of the Web spurred further hysteria about the supposed spread of kiddie porn, though never verifiable since the sites are always highly secret. In 1996 the so-called “Communications Decency Act” was passed by Congress to combat online porn but was soon struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unacceptably vague. Nonetheless a thriving bureaucracy developed to profit from porn hysteria, along with eager private interests selling products and services to prevent, investigate and punish all those invisible producers of kiddie porn. Legal definitions of child porn are still vague and give judges the opportunity to make arbitrary determinations. (Current federal statutes define child porn as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive conduct involving a minor.”)

Today there is so much hysteria that when a 16-year-old boy expresses interest in a 14-year-old girl he is called a “pedophile.” This is the cultural context of the West today, in which exorbitantly paid prosecutors sit in air-conditioned offices to carefully study photographs of children online or on private cell phones to see if “too much” skin is showing.

But every day countless highly-paid investigators are confronted with the virtual non-existence of real child porn, so they pretend to be doing useful work by investigating and arresting a few people occasionally for innocent child nudity (parents photographing their kids in the bathtub), which are then reported dramatically as “Huge Child Porn Bust.” After damaging or destroying the lives of the falsely accused, the media often don’t even bother to publish follow-up reports of all charges being eventually dismissed or the innocent being acquitted. No wonder governments don’t have the time or resources (or inclination) to investigate the massive corruption within government as well as between government and business lobbies.

A few more little jabs at popular Italian culture before I get back to my criminal case: a popular Italian children’s song is about a baby dinosaur with a green penis. It has never sparked any controversy here in Europe, nor should it, though it probably would in the U.S. A modern fashion in Italy is to stage ancient Greek plays in the original, crumbing theaters that spectators used 2,600 years ago. There are several such sites in Sicily and southern Italy, and during such performances the actors sometimes wear modern clothing and even insert modern humor. One actor in an ancient comedy recently shouted: “Do you know why it’s so important to use extra virgin olive oil? Because in Italy the oil is the only thing there is that’s virgin!”

The devil is in the details. Early in the morning of March 18, 2016, four Italian police officers showed up at my door unannounced, with an order to search me and the premises (as well as a home at another, irrelevant address) and break the doors down if necessary. In theory, the prosecutor’s office is an impersonal entity; individual prosecutors are interchangeable. But the search order was signed by an individual. Only later did I discover that the original prosecutor in charge of my investigation for almost three years hadn’t seen any reason to violate the privacy of my home. The original individual who had much more experience as a prosecutor no longer had my case because she was promoted to a more important position. I had nothing to hide and at the time I didn’t know that the search order signed by a new prosecutor was completely illegal under multiple criteria.

According to Italian law, violating the privacy of someone’s home must be “well-motivated by a particular and urgent necessity.” Although the new prosecutor asserted that there was a particular and urgent necessity for the sudden search, she never specified exactly what that particular and urgent necessity was – because there wasn’t any. The search of my home was a fishing expedition in the mistaken hope that the authorities would find something illegal. When they didn’t, the new prosecutor was obliged to claim the innocent material they did find was really “pornographic,” to protect herself from a charge of having ordered an illegal search.

Prosecutors are supposed to investigate reports of specific crimes that have been committed, to determine if the reports are true and then find out who the guilty parties are, NOT investigate some specific individuals to find out if maybe they might have committed some crime. But the prosecutor in this case decided to investigate me by invading my privacy without any report of any crime having been committed.

In addition, the secret investigation of me that began in May 2013 had already expired. The new prosecutor had recently requested permission from a judge to extend the term of the investigation, but the extension was not approved until after the search was long over. As it turned out, the only “particular and urgent necessity” is that the new prosecutor was desperate because despite three years of surveillance online and on-the-street, the term of the investigation expired without any evidence whatsoever of any criminal activity. There was no reasonable justification whatsoever for ordering the police to break somebody’s doors down.

The police who came to my house were polite to me, but one asked me an odd question: “You enjoy writing?” Yes, I do, but since I’ve never written anything illegal, and Article 21 of the Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression “to everyone,” why would a government employee be interested in my writing? I have repeatedly and incessantly criticized the mass hysteria over child porn and child sex abuse, such as in my book Real Child Safety specifically criticizing the special interests that profit from the hysteria and exploit government power to promote their political and financial agenda. So maybe the question the government employee really meant to ask was: “You enjoy criticizing the government?”

The police then took me and my data disks to a police station where a specialist opened my hard drive (as well as my portable memory cards they had confiscated), and spent several hours looking at every single image and video I had. By the way, my lawyer was present during the search and analysis of my media. My tiny hard disk was only 500gb, and my portable memory cards amounted to less than 100gb, so the four investigators in two rooms had ample time to see everything I had. After they saw everything I had and after consulting the prosecutor, they said “This material is no problem.”

However, since my residence permit was expired, they said “That’s a problem,” and brought me to the Foreigners’ Office. I explained that I had attempted to renew my residence permit when it first expired over 20 years ago, but at that time an official told me it wasn’t possible. (Nor did he say I had to leave the country.) At that time I then went to another government office and asked if it would be possible to obtain dual citizenship since my father was an Italian citizen. That second clerk told me “not possible” as well. In 1999 I had also requested an immigration visa from the Italian Consulate in NYC, which a clerk brushed off with blatant discourtesy. In March 2016 my explanation did not impress the Foreigners’ Office at all, and they promptly issued an expulsion order without explanation – as if my residence permit had expired 20 days ago.

I only recently discovered that the information the government employees gave me 20 years before was incorrect. According to Italian law, I am an Italian citizen by birth, by virtue of my father having been an Italian citizen. Nonetheless, I would soon be accused of never having attempted to take advantage of my status as eligible for a residence permit! I immediately retained a second lawyer who specializes in immigration and we appealed the expulsion order, which a judge suspended immediately. After I obtained all the official documents proving my father’s Italian citizenship, the judge annulled the expulsion order three months later. Unfortunately my immigration lawyer was still in high school twenty years ago. Far from being a reasonable candidate for expulsion, according to my calculations the Italian government now owes me compensation for 20 years of lost income.

At the time of the illegal search and attempted expulsion I was teaching three classes in two middle schools, and I was able to continue working normally, but the police advised me not to tell “them” (presumably my employers or students) about the search. I didn’t know that in the meantime the drama evolved when the prosecutor secretly asked a private computer consultant to perform an immediate deep search of my disk’s free space for deleted files.

About a week later that consultant gave the prosecutor a preliminary report, listing the same things that the police had already found during the initial search in my presence, upon which the prosecutor asked a preliminary judge to approve an urgent “precautionary arrest” to prevent me from leaving the country (!) or producing any more “child porn,” as well as avoid the danger that I might warn any possible accomplices by informing them that there was an attempted criminal prosecution.

At the same time that I was appealing an expulsion order which the police themselves solicited, the new prosecutor was telling a judge I might try to flee the country. The new prosecutor (or her impersonal office) also tried to mislead that judge by telling him a few other, shall we say, inaccurate factoids. The preliminary judge eventually rejected the prosecutor’s request to arrest me, since the supposed evidence found in the search is not pornographic. What “child porn” was the prosecutor claiming? (To be continued.)

Posted in censorship, nudity, photography, sex, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments