July 18, 2003


Some child-destroying pervert was arrested after he left a tape of his crimes inside a VCR he delivered to a repair shop. Prosecutor Sal Vasta is gentle in his description of police procedure after the tapes were located:

Mr Vasta said in going to lengths to identify the girls, a "very bad decision" was made by police to allow some parents to view the videos to try and identify the children.


Posted by Tim Blair at July 18, 2003 02:58 AM


Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 18, 2003 at 03:29 AM

I know this feeling is commonplace, but in my short stint as a law clerk for a prosecuting agency here in Oregon I was tasked with reviewing a particular tape in police custody as evidence as part of researching its admissibility.

I should have quit, instead. To this day I have to repress the lingering urge to kill any bastard convicted of this base, evil conduct.

In the cops' defense, though, they probably have a much harder shell then most of us (goes with the job, I think) and I think they sometimes forget that the rest of us don't share that particular attribute. Still, common sense should have ruled the day on this issue.

Posted by: KevinV at July 18, 2003 at 03:33 AM

well, they're sort of stuck though, aren't they? how do they identify the kids w/o the parents looking at the videos? i suppose they could ask all the parents who claim that their children have been abused to submit photos, and then have some poor cops watch all the videos with the photos handy...oh man, you could not pay me enough to make me want to be a cop.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 18, 2003 at 04:00 AM

Edit the videos. Take a still shot of the kid's face. There are many ways around this without requiring parents to watch the damn tapes.

Posted by: tim at July 18, 2003 at 04:15 AM

It doesn't sound like the Police required parents to watch the tape but "allowed" them to. Most likely scenario is that several distraught and suspicious parents asked the police to see the tape to see if their children were there or not.
As a father of a little girl I could see the desire to know for sure. Still its not a good idea.

Posted by: monkeyboy at July 18, 2003 at 04:50 AM

If I thought my children were on a tape like that, I'd have to watch it to see what was done to them. As horrible as it would be, I couldn't NOT watch it, because I'd want to know. I think not knowing would be worse, and at least with knowledge you could proceed with professional help for the child.

And it would also strengthen my resolve to be sitting on the prison steps with a shotgun when they finally (inevitably) let the bastard out.

Posted by: Rebecca Harris at July 18, 2003 at 05:41 AM

Edit the videos.

Yep, easily done. The disgusting sights could have been fuzzed out with little difficulty.

Posted by: Bashir Gemayel at July 18, 2003 at 05:46 AM

tim has beaten one in saying what the police responsible should have done.
`Bad decision' - crap - try, we ran out of decs. possessed of common sense and empathy which leads to decency, they share common dog fuck instead.

Posted by: d at July 18, 2003 at 09:26 AM

On the bright side at least the man will likely never be released if he's found to be a ongoing threat to the community. On the down side he'll be placed in protective care instead of being released into the general population. Crims are crims but no-one likes rock spiders.

Posted by: Jake D at July 18, 2003 at 10:39 AM

About four years ago the son of an acquaintance landed himself a job interning for a senior prosecutor in an Australian capital city. He was a bright law student with enough energy for a dozen men, and polite, witty and downright nice to boot. His assignment for the entire summer break was to catalogue the collection of pornographic images contained on the computer of a man charged with crimes related to paedophilia. I met the son after a month at this and immediately noticed a sharp change in his behaviour, most noticeably a loss of energy. I asked him how the job was going and he told me that he had to classify over 100,000 (one hundred thousand) separate images for an upcoming court appearance. His job was to look at each one and file it with other images of a similar nature. All images were of people classified under the law as ‘children’ – many of them under ten. Think about that for moment: a single individual had 100,000 images of children involved in activities that no mother of father would willingly allow them to undertake. 100,000. My mind never quite got around that figure, and I sometimes wonder if the young man’s in question did either.

Posted by: Preston Whip at July 18, 2003 at 02:21 PM

Rebecca Harris hit the nail on the head.

Many parents want to know exactly what happened to their child, or brothers to their sisters etc. As a cop I can never understand why they want to, it turns your guts to look at this stuff yourself.

One victim explained it to me very clearly though. Until they know exactly what happened hundreds of horrible possibilities pass through their mind. Once you tell them in blow by blow detail - and lots of them want to know, no one is forced - without exception they all claim to feel better able to handle what has happened. They can then deal with only the real demons, and not the ones they imagined. I don't know why some people were shown tapes and others were not, but to speculate is dangerous.

Thank you for all the useful tips on identification, we have never thought of them before. One smart arse lawyer pointing out that someone had identified a picture the police had taken from an image and digitally enhanced, um that would go a long way! The evidence act is designed to ensure fairness to the accused.

Yeah Tim, your right, it is incredible, but you got the wrong people in your crosshairs.

Posted by: Gilly at July 18, 2003 at 09:01 PM

Yeah, a bad idea, but possibly something easier to identify as a bad idea in hindsight.

Posted by: Andjam at July 19, 2003 at 01:10 AM