New York: Come For The Bagels, Stay For The Perfectly Legal Kiddie Porn
|Watching kiddie porn in New York is now less illegal than smoking weed.|
Probably not the slogan New York State tourism officials were hoping for, but New York has (un)-officially become the Kiddie Porn State thanks to a ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals Tuesday that determined viewing kiddie porn isn't a crime.
Possessing, producing, and distributing child erotica is still illegal (sorry, perverts), but the court decided that "possessing" kiddie porn and viewing it on the Internet are not the same thing. In other words, just because you saw smut on the Internet doesn't mean it's your possession, and therefore isn't illegal under the current law.
"Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law," Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote in the Court's ruling (which you can read -- in its entirety -- below).
The ruling stems from the case of an assistant professor of public administration at Marist College, James D. Kent, who in 2009 was convicted of several kiddie porn-related crimes. Kent, who was sentenced to three years in prison after more than a hundred images of kiddie porn were found on his computer, claimed at his sentencing that (stop us if you've heard this one before) the kiddie porn wasn't his, and that someone at the college must have planted it on his computer.
In its decision, first obtained by MSNBC, the Court dismissed one of the two counts of promoting a sexual performance of a child and one of several counts of possession of child pornography on which Kent was convicted. Kent's (several) other convictions were upheld.
All of the judges agree that kiddie porn is despicable, but disagreed on whether it was necessary to "criminalize all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible."
In one of two concurring opinions, Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote that "the purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York." However, because of the way kiddie porn laws are currently written, "some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen."
The ruling concludes that it's up to the state Legislature to change the law, not the courts.
So, there you have it, New York -- if you happen to stumble upon some kiddie porn, feel free to watch as much of it as your heart desires. Just make sure you're not the one who "procured" it -- or at least that nobody can prove you procured it (a scenario that appears to be far more likely to happen).
Read the Court's majority opinion below.