In a very controversial decision, viewing child porn online has been ruled legal in the state of New York, the New York Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, May 7.

The court ruled in the case of a college professor whose work computer was found to have stored more than a hundred illegal images of child porn in its Web cache.

The court dismissed one of the two counts of promoting a sexual performance of a child and one of the dozens of counts of possession of child pornography on which James D. Kent was convicted. The court upheld the other counts against Kent, an assistant professor of public administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The court rationalizes its decision this way: “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 for a majority of four of the six judges.

“Rather, 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,” Ciparick wrote. “To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct — viewing — that our Legislature has not deemed criminal.”

Kent told the court during the sentencing phase of his conviction of possession pornography sentencing that he “abhorred” child porn and argued that someone else at Marist must have placed the images on his computer — was sentenced to one to three years in state prison in August 2009.

The decision rests on this fact: whether accessing and viewing something on the Internet is the same as possessing it, and whether possessing it means you had to procure it. In essence, the court said no to the first question and yes to the second.

In short, “the purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York,” Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote in one of two concurring opinions that agreed with the result but not with the majority’s reasoning.

Kent’s attorney, Nathan Z. Dershowitz, told reporters that he hadn’t yet had a chance to talk to his client, so he couldn’t discuss what they would do next. But he agreed with Graffeo that the ruling means that “in New York, there is no crime” in simply viewing child pornography.

All of the judges agreed that child pornography is an abomination, but they disagreed whether it was necessary to “criminalize all use of child pornography to the maximum extent possible,” as Ciparick wrote in the majority opinion. The majority said that was up to the Legislature, not the courts, to decide.

At last report, the New York State legislature is working to criminalize viewing child porn. –terry shropshire

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    Child porn (wrong as HELL), adult porn;  why would anyone want to view porn in a public space when people, (and kids), can look over your shoulder?

    Get a home computer!  If you can’t get your own computer then NO PORN FOR YOU!