An employee and resident of the Walden West Outdoor Science School in Saratoga has recently been arrested on charges of possession of child pornography, and also for creating child pornography and participated in child molestation. The man, known to campers, affectionately, as “Papa Bear” denies all charges, claiming that the pornographic images found on his home computer were the result of accidental spamming. Additionally, a frequent camper at the school (10) may have been the victim of child molestation, though this is not clear and law enforcement officials have yet to fully investigate.
Unfortunately, there are persons who purposefully download child pornography. However, there are many cases in which an innocent person has been accused of such heinous crimes. For example, “Papa Bear’s” claim that he accidentally downloaded spam associated with a movie called “Little Boy” may very well be true. The simple fact is that there is no way to prove that a specific person downloaded the images on his home and camp computer. This could show what is called, legally speaking, a ‘lack of intent.’
In other words, though penalties for the possession of child pornography are harsh (CA Penal Code 311), including up to 3 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine, prosecutors must be able to prove that you purposefully and willingly downloaded or otherwise received inappropriate images of children. Otherwise, if intent cannot be proved, prosecutors will have a difficult time getting a conviction.