The Naturist Child Dilemma
Easily Ordered Videos Blur Line Between Innocence, Pornography
News 8/WGAL - Susquehanna, PA
December 22, 2005
Go on the Internet and you can find a slew of videos featuring children sometimes in various stages of undress. Amazon.com recently pulled some of the videos off of its Web site.
The distributors claim they are naturist films and sports documentaries from Russia and Ukraine. But experts say they can be stepping stones to dangerous behavior. News 8's Susan Shapiro looked into these sales.
The videos have titles like "Little Warriors go to Summer Camp" and "Gym Boys." The titles might be innocent, but some view the content as child erotica or pornography.
The videos were for sale for a time on Amazon.com. News 8 On Your Side ordered "Little Warriors go to Summer Camp" as part of our investigation. It arrived a day later in an Amazon.com carton.
There is some natural sound on the tape, but no narration or dialogue. It shows boys dressed in gym shorts and swimsuits participating in a variety of camp activities.
News 8 showed the video to special agents Dennis Guzy and Michael Williams of the Child Sexual Exploitation Unit in Pennsylvania. Under the Pennsylvania crimes code, such videos are legal because they do not show children engaged in any sexual activity.
But, Guzy said there is only one reason why people buy such tapes.
"In my 30 years in law enforcement, (I've) yet to run across a person who had these kinds of tapes for anything other than their own sexual gratification," Guzy said. "We see this as a progression, a stepping stone for an individual who ultimately might be interested in hard core child pornography or molestation of children."
Customer comments on Amazon said things like "you will love these boys" and "it left me feeling like I know these boys personally."
Amazon.com pulled more than 40 of the tapes from its Web site after screening them based on a number of complaints. News 8 received a copy of an e-mail urging people to contact Amazon.com about the videos.
Company spokeswoman Patty Smith told News 8's Susan Shapiro that the company doesn't want to be in a position of censoring titles, but "in looking at them we realized they weren't something we wanted to sell on our site."
An overseas company markets the videos, even enclosing a coupon for the buyer to purchase additional titles. Guzy said intelligence indicates that the majority of child pornography is coming out of the former Soviet Union.
"Individuals will go into various areas of the Soviet Union, offer parents a fee to allow them to photograph children nude or graphic videos -- (they then) market items over the Internet," Guzy said.
While the video News 8 purchased for $29.95 did not show nudity or graphic sexual acts, Guzy said he still sees it as an exploitation of children.
"It's a wonder these youngsters even know whether they're being videotaped and the videos sold for profit," he said.
The film company has numerous videos for sale on its Web site. It also has pages of disclaimers. Among them it says, "We do not sell nor condone the sale of child pornography."