Libraries Can Be Made Safer from Internet Sex Offenders

by Dr. Frank Kardasz

Arrests of sex offenders for Internet child pornography at public libraries highlight the need for continued
vigilance against this disturbing variation of child abuse. While the Internet is an excellent source of
worthwhile educational information, it is also the preferred venue of many sociopaths, thieves,
fraudsters, bullies and sex offenders. Sometimes when I speak with community groups and describe the
troubling crimes being facilitated via the Internet someone asks, "Why don't they just shut the whole thing
down!", as if there is a switch somewhere that will just cut the power to the entire Internet.

Although the Internet, for better and for worse is with us to stay, I doubt that the framers of the constitution
could have envisioned, or would have defended child pornography being viewed, trafficked and sold via
the Internet through computers at our tax-supported public libraries.

In Minneapolis, the problem with people viewing all forms of pornography on library computers got so
bad that in 2000, librarians there filed a hostile work environment lawsuit against the city and won a large
settlement. (see

Some free speech advocates have tried to inhibit the use of Internet filters on public library computers.
The argument about whether or not an individual has the right to view adult pornography on a public
library computer has been decided by the Supreme Court. In 2003 the Court ruled against the American
Library Association and pornography producers by authorizing filtering of pornography from public library
computers. Justice Stevens said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material
inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to
agree."  In his concurring opinion, the late Justice Rehnquist cited an expert who said, "The librarian's to separate out the gold from the garbage, not to preserve everything."  

The law classifies child pornography differently from pornography depicting adults. Child pornography is
unlawful everywhere but its potential for harm is sometimes underestimated. Apologists for the
possessors, viewers and traffickers of child pornography argue that the images are "only pictures" and
that looking at images is acceptable and preferable to actually molesting a child. This rationalization was
best refuted by Canadian Michael Brier, a viewer of Internet child pornography who murdered 10 year old
Holly Jones in Toronto. He confessed that viewing the images made him "long for it" (the sex act) "in his
heart". (see

In one Arizona appellate case (State of AZ v. Morton Robert Berger, 2004) the defendant argued that
because his possession of child pornography was passive and because he did not use violence, his
long prison sentence was unfair. Judges Ehrlich and Hall of the Arizona Court of Appeals disagreed.
They said that such logic is abstruse and cited other courts that have decided that child pornography is a
form of child abuse. According to the courts, possessors of child pornography support the child
pornography industry and thus support the subordination of children. The court in Berger also said that
consumers of child pornography provide an economic motive for its creation and continuation; absent
such encouragement and enablement, these children would not have been abused as they were. (see
Haslett, 205, Ariz. at 527 P11, 73 P.3d at 1262)

Other apologists for possessors of child pornography argue that there is no proven link between those
who view child pornography and those who commit "hands-on" contact offenses. This argument was
refuted when a study of prisoners in Federal custody for possession of child pornography found that a
significant number had committed previously unreported acts of contact sex offenses against minors.

Meanwhile, the troubles involving offenders viewing child pornography in libraries continue. In 2004, a
Pennsylvania man raped and choked an eight year old girl in a public library restroom after viewing
pornography on the computers there. (see Other similar
incidents throughout the United States have caused some library administrators to take notice.

While some libraries have taken affirmative steps towards protecting patrons from both adult
pornography and child pornography, more work is needed. Investigators need additional tools to assist
them in stopping child pornography in public libraries. I recommend the following additional steps to
further improve library safety and assist law enforcement officers investigating child pornography

  • Those who use public library computers should be required to provide and enter identification
    information, if only a library card number, before being permitted to use the computers. The library
    card number should be preserved on the library computer servers for 90 days so that in the event
    of a crime investigators could obtain a subpoena and retrieve the information.

  • Libraries should adjust their computer server logs to capture information about all Internet (URL)
    locations visited by each computer, and retain the information for at least 90 days. The captured
    information would not be revealed to anyone without the appropriate court order.

  • Libraries should retain information about the library materials checked out and later returned by
    patrons for a period of 90 days after the items are returned. This information also would not be
    available without the appropriate court order.

  • Surveillance video collected in public areas of libraries is public information. Persons whose
    images are recorded there are not in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
    Copies of such videos should be provided to law enforcement officers upon request and without
    requiring a court order.

  • Libraries must acknowledge that they are Internet service providers as defined in Federal law and
    subject to the provisions of law that requires them to report child pornography when it is
    discovered on computers. (see

  • Computer software that filters pornography must be actively and carefully monitored in order to
    keep computers safe.

Implementing these recommendations will help make libraries safer for citizens and give law
enforcement additional avenues for finding offenders when incidents occur.

Children, libraries and pornography; which one of those  words does not belong with the other two?

Witnessing an alarming increase in child victims of preferential sex offenders, Congress passed the
Protect Act. The law strengthens some of the laws against preferential offenders and provides mandatory
sentencing for offenders.

When he signed the legislation into law on April 30, 2003, President Bush said,

    This law, the Protect Act of 2003, will greatly assist law enforcement in tracking criminals who
    would harm our children, and will greatly help in rescuing the youngest victims of crime. With my
    signature, this new law will formally establish the federal government's role in the Amber Alert
    system and will make punishment for federal crimes against children more severe.

    This law carries forward a fundamental responsibility of public officials at every level of
    government to do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable citizens from dangerous
    offenders who prey on them.

The Children's Internet Protection Act

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), sponsored by Senators McCain and Hollings attempted to
provide another important tool for protecting children, specifically in our nations libraries. The law
requires the installation and use by schools and libraries of  technology for filtering or blocking harmful
material on computers with Internet access to be eligible to receive or retain universal service assistance.

Misguided free speech advocates, most prominently the American Library Association, which was joined
by promoters and supporters of pornography, fought CIPA to the Supreme Court and lost. In June 2003,

Despite the positive inroads of legislators and courts, disturbing incidents continue: In February 2004, an
eight year old girl was brutally attacked and raped in a Philadelphia library. The offender was a recidivist
sex offender who utilized library computers to view pornography. It is time for libraries to take affirmative
aggressive steps towards protecting children from preferential sex offenders.


Arizona Revised Statutes, (ARS 13-1004) defines facilitation as follows: A person commits facilitation if,
acting with knowledge that another person is committing or intends to commit an offense, the person
knowingly provides the other person with means or opportunity for the commission of the offense.
Knowing that pedophiles and preferential sex offenders frequent the library for the purpose of viewing
child pornography there,some libraries continue to provide unrestricted Internet access. Is it facilitation?  
While most legal scholars would scoff at this loose association, as taxpayers and legislators supporting
library activities we are tacit accomplices to the crime.

July 9, 2010

Investigators with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, ICAC Task Force, arrested Roosevelt Occenac, 8
Bradley Lane, Roanoke, VA, a 45 year old male, from Haiti, for violation of 18.2-26/18.2-374.1:1 Code of
Virginia, Attempting to Possess Child Pornography, at the Montvale Public Library.  

At 1107 AM authorities at the library notified the sheriff’s office of the suspicious activities of an individual
using one of the library computers. Mr. Occenac was arrested at the library, without incident, after ICAC
investigators and Bedford County Deputies arrived at the library and placed the individual under
surveillance.  Mr. Occenac was transported to the magistrate’s office in Bedford and then remanded to
the Blue Ridge Regional Jail facility in Bedford where he is being held without bond.  ICAC investigators
also obtained a search warrant for Mr. Occenac’s vehicle and a USB device that was in his possession
at the time of his arrest.  He was observed by two girls, age 10 and 12, on Tuesday and they reported it to
their mother who reported it to the staff of the library. The staff was not able to locate him on Tuesday, but
saw him re-enter the library on Thursday and kept him under surveillance until our investigators arrived at
the library.  The suspect was there both times during a “children’s time” event.  

This incident draws attention of the need to provide libraries with quick and easy training in this arena so
that they can, when these events occur, preserve evidence and protect the innocent bystander until law
enforcement arrives.

Major Ricky Gardner, Chief Deputy
Bedford County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office


Holly Johnson, The Arizona Republic, Aug. 13, 2004
A sexual predator is back behind bars today, after parole officers found diaries and photographs detailing
sexual exploits in his motel room, authorities said. Charlton Glenn Ward, 33, of Phoenix was booked into
Jail on six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a felony.  Ward's parole officers went to his motel
room in central Phoenix on July 23 to check on him. What they found was chilling.

A detective found a book detailing sexual acts. The book contained names of at least 40 girls. Officers
uncovered pictures of what appeared to be Ward having sex with girls as young as 1 year old and as old
as 13.  They also found children's underwear, and child pornography that Ward said he downloaded at
Phoenix Public Library.  Ward was released from prison last year after serving time for molesting a 3-
year-old girl in 1996, according to Arizona Departmentof Corrections records.

retrieved August 13, 2004 from


On February 20, 2004, 24 year old Gary Lee Davis plead guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to one
count of sexual exploitation of a minor for possessing child pornography. The case began on March 24
2003, when a horrified patron of the Cholla branch of the Phoenix Public library at 10050 Metro Parkway
East noticed that Davis was viewing child pornography on a public-access computer there. The Phoenix
Public Library Internet-use rules tacitly permits felony child pornography violations through a policy of
feigned helplessness.

The alert patron notified the lethargic library staff and repeatedly demanded that police be notified. As
Davis fled in a vehicle, responding Phoenix Police officers stopped and arrested him nearby. Davis was
found in possession of dozens of disturbing images of children being sexually exploited. Investigators
were unable to substantiate added allegations that Davis had committed child molestation. He was
permitted to plead guilty before Judge Granville to possession of one unlawful image and received the
Arizona minimum mandatory sentence for the offense, ten years prison. Davis also received lifetime
probation and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.

Link to Court Documents - Case # CR2003017060


MINNEAPOLIS - The city's public library will consider using  Internet filters to restrict patrons' access to
online porn, and will pay $435,000 to a dozen librarians who said easy access to the images resulted in
a hostile work environment, the librarians' lawyer said Friday. Library officials released a statement
confirming the settlement, but did not mention the amount. Among other measures, the officials said they
would consider Internet filters and an increase in the penalties for those who violate the library's
Internet policy. The library did not admit any wrongdoing. The issue arose in 1997, when librarians
complained that staffers were being regularly exposed to pornographic images. Concern grew as
patrons, including children, also were exposed to the graphic material. The librarians complained to
state and federal agencies, and in 2001 the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission found
probable cause that federal law had been violated because of a sexually hostile work environment. The
case was referred to the Justice Department, which decided not to sue the library. The librarians filed a
federal lawsuit in March.
The Associated Press. AP US & World, August 15, 2003


New York Times on line. June 1, 2001 By Carl S. Kaplan
In early 1997, the Minneapolis Public Library began giving its patrons unfettered and unlimited access to
the Internet. The library’s First Amendment-inspired policy was intended to provide a needed service to
the community. But Wendy Adamson, a reference desk librarian at the library's central branch, said it
effectively made her working life a nightmare, and federal officials appear poised to agree with her.

Acting on complaints from Adamson and other librarians at the city’s central branch library, the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission’s Minneapolis office ruled last week that the library, by exposing
its staff to sexually explicit images on unrestricted computer terminals, may have allowed for a hostile
work environment. The blockbuster finding, issued on May 23 following an investigation by the agency,
came in response to complaints filed a year ago by Adamson and 11 of her colleagues.

Free speech advocates quickly expressed concern that the E.E.O.C.'s decision is a dangerous precedent
that could pressure libraries to aggressively monitor patrons' viewing habits or install filtering software
as a means to ward off potential discrimination suits. But Adamson and Bob Halagan, the lawyer for the
librarians, hailed the commission's finding as a victory for common sense.

Adamson said the complaints were filed only after she and other librarians repeatedly notified library
officials about their concerns and detailed what they said were the new policy’s negative impact on staff
and patrons.

"Our downtown library became a club for a large number of men who were viewing pornography all day,"
Adamson, who has been a librarian for over 30 years, said in an interview. "I'd see these men at the door
at 9 a.m. and some of them would still be there at 9 at night."

Adamson said that while she was sitting at her workplace and doing her job, she would look up and see
"horrible" stuff on the screens of nearby terminals. "I'm talking about torture and sex with animals," she
said. It was "really demoralizing and depressing."

Computer printouts of sexually explicit pictures littered the library, Adamson said. She said she saw
some men at computer terminals engage in what appeared to her to be masturbation and that computer
users would verbally abuse her when she tried to enforce time

The worst part of her day, she said, was watching, helplessly, as members of the public -- including
children -- encountered unwanted sexual images on terminals. Often, she said, a patron who wanted to
do conventional research would approach a terminal and find that it was locked onto a sexually explicit
site -- owing to a "quicksand" feature some porn sites use that prevents users from leaving the site. She
said she repeatedly had to calm the patrons and reset the terminal's browser.

"We were told [by administrators] to avert our eyes. But we were surrounded by it," she said, adding that
library officials did not respond to staff complaints about the policy.

The director of the Minneapolis Public Library, Mary L. Lawson, did not return telephone calls. The
library's spokesperson released a statement, attributed to Lawson, stating that the library would not
comment on the E.E.O.C.'s finding until it had the opportunity to consult with its lawyer and trustees.

The statement noted, however, that last spring the library adopted revised guidelines for Internet use.
Among other things, the new guidelines include time limits, sign-up procedures requiring identification,
posted notices prohibiting illegal Internet activity and enforcement procedures.

The E.E.O.C.'s ruling, called a "determination," is a preliminary conclusion by the agency that there is
reason to believe discrimination occurred. The commission will next attempt to resolve the matter
through mediation. Adamson said the E.E.O.C. had privately suggested to the library that it pay each of
the 12 employees $75,000 in damages.

If the agency’s mediation efforts fail -- if the library declines to enter settlement discussions or if the E.E.O.
C. is unable to secure an acceptable settlement -- the matter may be sent to the Department of Justice
for possible prosecution. In addition, the librarians may elect to directly sue the library in court.

David Rucker, an enforcement supervisor for the E.E.O.C.'s Minneapolis office, declined to confirm or
deny the E.E.O.C.'s investigation of the library, citing his office's policy of confidentiality.

Jan LaRue, senior director of legal studies for the conservative Family Research Council, which has
consistently lobbied for governmental regulation of Internet decency, said that the E.E.O.C.'s finding will
make libraries across the country "sit up and take notice."

"When libraries face up to the fact that they face a loss of revenues" from potential discrimination suits,
they will begin to restrict patrons' access to sexually explicit material on the Internet, she said. LaRue
said that she believed nothing less than filtering software will solve the problem of a library's hostile work

"The Minneapolis Public Library's current policy is to tell people, 'Don't touch the paint,'" LaRue said. "But
people still touch the paint. It's much more effective to keep [sexually explicit images] from coming up on
the screen as much as possible."

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at U.C.L.A. who has written extensively about the Internet, free speech
and workplace harassment law, agreed that the E.E.O.C.'s finding would put pressure on library trustees
to adopt filtering. He added, however, that he disagreed with the government's policy of forcing libraries,
under the threat of discrimination law penalties, to restrict the freedom of library users to view legally
protected but offensive material.

Of course, a library that uses filtering software on all its terminals risks inviting -- and losing -- a First
Amendment lawsuit, Volokh said, alluding to a 1998 federal district court decision declaring that the
filtering policy of a public library in Loudoun County, Va., was unconstitutional.

But losing a First Amendment lawsuit will subject a library to "nominal damages," Volokh said. Losing a
Title VII discrimination lawsuit can result in damages "with lots of zeros in it," he said. Faced with the
choice between two equally hazardous legal alternatives, library trustees will logically opt to install filters
and ward off harassment suits with potentially massive damages, he said.

Ann Beeson, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in cyberlaw cases, said
that a charge of sexual harassment is often used as a pretext to justify library filtering. The Loudoun
County library's filtering scheme was cast in the form of anti- harassment policy, she said. But the judge
in that case found that there was no hard evidence that any librarian was at substantial risk of
harassment from viewing sexual images. Beeson said that, even today, millions of library patrons use
unrestricted Internet terminals without harming librarians. In any case, she said, there are better ways to
avoid a hostile environment for librarians than the use of filtering. Acceptable means include the use of
blinders or "privacy screens" on terminals.  

A new law that requires public libraries and schools that receive federal telecommunications funds to
install Internet blocking software goes into effect in July, 2002. The federal law was challenged on First
Amendment grounds in March by the ACLU and the American
Library Association. Still, Halagan, the librarians' lawyer in the Minneapolis matter, said that it is a
mistake for people to reduce the Minneapolis controversy to a filtering vs. non-filtering debate. "As a
matter of fact, my clients are split on the subject," he said.

"What this determination will do is cause other libraries to think about what obligations they have [to their
employees] and to balance that with the First Amendment," he said. "The answer could be separate
computers for children, filtering, limiting printer access, posting notices or working with local police. It's a
complex issue." Halagan said that the Minneapolis library's revised policy, which went into effect shortly
after his clients filed their complaints, has resulted in a much-improved work climate, but that more
needed to be done.

For her part, Adamson said that she hopes the ruling will empower other librarians who feel harassed to
speak up.

"Our experience will be felt by other people in other libraries," she predicted. She said that when
speaking about this subject, she could not help recalling an incident when she was helping 12-year old
girl with a term paper. She said they were standing by a bookcase, theirbacks to a computer terminal.
Adamson said that, when she turned and saw that the user of the nearby computer was looking at a
picture of a "naked woman tied up," she thought up a ruse to escort the girl to another part of the library
so she would not see the picture. "This happened all the time. It was so stressful."

Retrieved March 10, 2003 from

Link to
Library Incidents Nationwide
Victim Impact Statement
Internet Crimes Against Children