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 But in his written decision the judge referred to a law that had been superseded by a recent Supreme Court decision.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/