According to Yeshiva University’s student newspaper, The Commentator,
Dr. [David] Pelcovitz, a child abuse advocate since the 1970s… urged “nuance” in this case involving his former student [Evan Zauder, a sixth-grade teacher], arguing that “child pornography use rarely translates into physical abuse of minors.”
This is a problematic statement for the following reasons
- Children are abused to produce child pornography (CP). Without physical abuse there is no video product. That is what makes CP a major crime, while adult pornography, presumably produced by consenting adults, is legal. According to the government’s sentencing document, “Zauder had used Skype file transfer to receive and transmit multiple images and videos of child pornography, including child pornography involving prepubescent minors and child pornography containing sadistic or masochistic material. See PSR ¶¶ 17-19.
- Being victimized to produce child pornography is a double whammy. The abuse persists even after the perpetrator is apprehended because the images continue to circulate. The New York Times reported on the sentencing hearing of a father who abused his daughter for over ten years and produced videos of the abuse. According to his twenty-year-old daughter, “I wonder if the people I know have seen these images… I wonder if the men I pass in the grocery store have seen them. Because the most intimate parts of me are being viewed by thousands of strangers, and traded around, I feel out of control. They are trading my trauma around like treats at a party… It feels like I am being raped by each and every one of them.”
- Studies also suggest that as many as 40% of those arrested for child pornography sexually victimized children and an additional 15% also attempted to solicit minors for sex.
Dr. Pelcovitz, child pornography does translate into physical and mental abuse of minors.
The YU Commentator also reports:
[Pelcovitz] claimed that, at the time of his writing the letter, the only charge he was aware of against Zauder was child pornography use. “I would never have done this [offered an optimistic prognosis for rehabilitation] if there was a direct victim involved.”
Dr. Pelcovitz, I am puzzled by your assumption that there was no victim, when live encounters are common for those arrested for child pornography. Moreover, a simple web search for the FBI-USDOJ plea bargain announcement would have revealed,
Evan Zauder, a former sixth-grade teacher at a private school in New Jersey, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to charges of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity and to receipt, distribution, and possession of child pornography.
Dr. Pelcovitz, how could have written your letter without checking the facts? Did you just rely on the representation of Evan Zauder’s defense attorney. Surely you know that in our adversarial system of justice, attorneys such as Ben Brafman can be considered ethical if they don’t lie, even if they omit additional damaging facts.
Dr. Pelcovitz, how can you expect victims, survivors, and anti-abuse advocates to trust you unless you acknowledge your errors in this case and commit to doing things differently in the future?