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Pedophiles — Things You Ought To Know

doyle.jpg

Take a good long look at  Brian Doyle, Deputy Press Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.  Alleged pedophile.

He could be your neighbor, your babysitter, your youth minister, your grocery check-out guy, your best friend’s husband.  He could be anyone you know.  Not exactly a big, flashing sign that says "alleged pedophile" around this guy’s neck, is there?

The fact that a Bush Administration Department of Homeland Security Official was arrested yesterday for attempting to solicit sex from a 14-year-old girl over the internet is a shock for some people.  But it shouldn’t be. 

The fact that this arrest also happened on the day that Justin Berry was testifying about his abuse at the hands of internet sexual predators before Congress makes this all the more horrid, in my mind — the juxtaposition between Brian Doyle and Justin Berry is just painful when you read the news articles side by side.  Taylor has a fantastic article about this — it’s a tough read, but a necessary one to understand the mindset behind this sort of behavior.  

Warning:  I’m going into a bit of detail below, and I didn’t want it to come as a shock for anyone.  Know what you face — and face it head on.

I’ve prosecuted a number of pedophiles in my time, as well as participating in ongoing probation supervision for already-convicted sexual predators, and there is one thing about which I am absolutely certain:  you can never cure a pedophile.  You can work with them, you can do aggressive therapy to help them control urges, you can do any number of things which require them to limit contact with children and porn and what-have-you, but there is no cure.

Most pedophiles that I’ve had to deal with in my legal career were molested themselves as children.  A lot of them grew up in families where they were routinely molested by a parent or step-parent so that they grow up thinking this sort of behavior is normal.  Not every person who is sexually molested becomes a pedophile — and I wish I knew where that switch gets flipped for some people and not others.

But ultimately it is all about power and/or the thrill of the hunt, depending on the pedophile.  Controlling your victim becomes everything.  And almost every pedophile that I’ve ever had the misfortune of supervising or prosecuting had a long, long history of being a sexual predator.  Most pedophiles don’t just molest one child (as if that weren’t bad enough).  I attended a prosecutor’s seminar on sexual predators when I was working, and was told that the average pedophile has hundreds (yes, hundreds) of victims over a lifetime.

Brian Doyle was sloppy — which means on some level he wanted to get caught.  He allegedly informed the undercover cop posing as a 14 year old that he worked for the DHS.  He gave her his cell phone number — a phone issued by the Department of Homeland Security.  He was chatting, online, with the undercover officer from his home in Maryland when officers arrived at his home to arrest him.

Here’s what’s in store for Mr. Doyle:  his computer will have been seized by those police officers.  They will comb through the hard drive of that computer for every, single chat in which he ever participated with a child.  If there are more, they will track down every one of those children that they can to determine whether or not they have had sexual relations with him.  They will comb through the hard drive for any child pornography that may exist thereon — and he faces federal criminal charges if there is any (and there likely is, considering that’s a fairly usual find in this type of case).  There is a criminal count for each, individual picture.  There are definitely Florida state charges — since this was a Florida state investigation/sting that caught Mr. Doyle.

The WaPo reports:

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his Silver Spring home at 7:45 p.m. and charged with seven counts of using a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmitting harmful materials to a minor, according to a sheriff’s office statement.

Agents with the department’s Inspector General’s Office, the U.S. Secret Service, the Montgomery County police and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant and seized his home computer and other materials, the statement said.

Doyle was online at the time awaiting what he thought was a nude image of a girl who had lymphoma, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in an interview with Fox News’ "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren." "We wanted to make sure he was using that computer and talking to detectives at the time of the arrest," Judd said.

In his initial communication last month, Doyle told an undercover computer-crimes detective who he was and that he worked for the Department of Homeland Security, later disclosing numbers for his office phone and government-issued cellphone and using those lines, the sheriff’s office said….

According to the sheriff’s office, Doyle initiated a sexually explicit conversation with the detective on March 12 in response to an Internet profile of a 14-year-old girl.

Doyle allegedly sent pornographic movie clips, non-pornographic photos of himself and instant messages from his AOL account, the police statement said. The sheriff’s office alleged that Doyle "on many occasions" instructed the undercover detective to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit acts he wished to perform.

I know you are sitting there at your computer thinking "ewwww," and you are right to do so, but you have to face the fact that this sort of thing goes on — every day, all over this country — before you understand the need to be vigilent in protecting your own children from these sorts of predators.  These are seasoned cops, though, who knew to catch him online while they did the arrest — so they had a contemporaneous record and could verify immediately that his prints were on the keyboard from the chatting, giving him no loophole argument for getting around the charges.

If there is child pornography on his computer, the authorities will try to trace back every single photograph to its origins to determine who took them, who was involved in the production, the distribution, the planning — every single aspect of this will be investigated as fully as it can be, to the extent that you can trace this sort of thing back.

And let me tell you, be grateful if you have never had to view child pornography in either photo or video form.  I still have nightmares sometimes about cases that I worked as a prosecutor, worrying about the children that we could never identify.  It is tough, gritty, gut-wrenching work.  And thank god for the police officers and FBI agents who do it.

But you can’t just depend on police officers to take care of all of this.  One of the biggest cases our local police were ever able to crack open came as a result of a tip from a food delivery service fellow who thought it was weird that an old guy, whol ived all by himself, bought multiple boxes of popsicles all the time — and always had a slew of kids in his impoverished neighborhood hanging out at his house.  Guess who was using all those popsicles to lure and groom local neighborhood kids…for years.

We do things backwards in this nation — and how we deal with pedophiles is one of them.  A sexual predator has the potential to crush the lives of hundreds of victims over a lifetime.  A child’s life is changed in the instant that he or she is molested — and the lives of every person around them for the rest of their lives are changed as well.  Studies have consistently shown that one in every four children in this country will be sexually molested — one in four — either by a stranger or, more commonly, by a family member or family friend.

The next time your kids have friends over to your house, just think about that one in four number for a minute and realize its implications.

We have to be smarter and do better with this sort of crime — because it ripples outward on so many, horrible levels over the lifetime of the survivor.  If your child begins to act furtive, secretive, hide their online activity from you, spend an inordinate amount of time IM-ing and trying to hide it, no longer spending time with other kids, disappearing from the house at odd hours, shying away from your hugs or any touch, gets very jumpy — anything along those unusual lines, you should try to keep a close eye on why the changes occur.  (Sure, teenagers especially, can be a bit jumpy behaviorally, but there you are.)  Check your caller ID — if there are repeat calls from a particular number — out of state or locally — that you don’t recognize, ask about it.

One of the biggest questions in my mind on this was how this was happening repeatedly with a Department of Homeland Security official who was using his work cell phone to perpetrate this?  The WaPo had this as well:

Another Homeland Security official — Frank Figueroa, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tampa — faces trial this week on charges of exposing himself to a teenage girl last year at a mall. Figueroa, who has been suspended, pleaded not guilty.

What in the hell is going on at the Department of Homeland Security?  These are the people who are supposed to be protecting us, right — instead, it looks like we have to protect our children from them.  Background check, anyone? 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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