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.
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 necessity for an urgent violation of my privacy, 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.
After the search 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, excepted 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 realty 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.)