The Law Enforcement Victims of Unlawful Images:
Victim Impact Statement
Dr. Frank Kardasz, June 8, 2008
Law enforcement personnel whose duties obligate them to view unlawful images have a sad duty.
Seeing images and videos that depict the exploitation of minors is a disturbing task. Observing minors
being brutally assaulted and hearing their cries creates psychological victimization for those who must
review the images and gather or present evidence towards the arrest and prosecution of offenders.
As caring humans, investigators and prosecutors have a natural affinity and empathy for young victims.
The empathy and affinity for minors is so profound that many in law enforcement are psychologically
unable to accept assignments that routinely deal with the victimization of children.
Unlike other forms of contraband unlawful images are the only type of banned substance introduced to
the human psyche through the sense of sight. Although the victims who suffer the most are the children
who endure the "hands-on" contact offenses, proximate victims of unlawful images also include those
who view the images. Investigators and prosecutors become psychological victims. Particularly
disturbing are the video images that are accompanied by the audio pleas of child victims.
Federal law and many state laws now have victims’ rights provisions. The laws permit victims to
describe the effect of crime to the court using a victim impact statement. Depending upon the rules in
the jurisdiction, the statement may be provided during pre-sentence oral testimony or in written text.
Below is a draft victim impact statement that I wrote in my capacity as a law enforcement supervisor
assigned to review unlawful images during the course of ICAC investigations. It may be useful to others
who can use the information as a basis for similar victim impact statements. The information may also
be useful in educating the judiciary about the impact of unlawful images.
Victim impact statement of Frank Kardasz
Pursuant to the Federal Law (18 U.S.C. § 3771) a victim is described as any person directly or
proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a federal offense. Arizona law (A.R.S. 13-4401.19)
describes a victim as a person against whom the criminal offense has been committed. I am writing
this statement to you for the purpose of sharing my story of proximate victimization. I do not wish to
invoke any other legal rights enumerated in the victims rights act. I only wish to submit this statement to
the court for consideration.
In the course of my employment as a law enforcement officer and during this investigation it was my sad
duty to view images depicting the sexual exploitation of minors that are the subjects of the present case.
Seeing the disturbing images of children being sexual abused caused me despair. Knowing that the
defendant received sexual gratification from viewing the images is particularly abhorrent to me.
Thinking about the images is emotionally troubling. When I consider the abuse that the victims in the
images suffered I am deeply affected. I am simultaneously aware that my level of victimization is
minimal compared to that of the child who was depicted in the images. Although I am troubled, my worst
day in law enforcement is still exponentially better than the day that the child victims in this case were
abused and photographed for the deviant sexual enjoyment of the defendant.
Because I am a law enforcement officer, most people would not consider me a victim in the classic
sense. I hope that you will not consider me less of a victim because of my job. I was not physically
assaulted and I did not suffer property loss. I was not personally sexually abused. But as you are aware,
you Honor, exposure to unlawful images is different. Images are the only kind of contraband that enter
the human body through the sense of sight. Unlike other kinds of crimes, psychological victimization
from viewing images happens to anyone who sees the images. My victimization was emotional. My
memory now retains recollections of horrors that no ones mind should possess.
I am disturbed too because I am aware of troubling research about possessors of unlawful images.
According to a Congressional report (Child pornography, 1986) possessors and traffickers of unlawful
images use them for one or more reasons including:
- To blackmail children into keeping silent about the abuse.
- To preserve a child's youthful image at the age preferred by the pedophile.
- To establish trust and camaraderie with other pedophiles.
- To gain access to other markets and children by exchanging material with other pedophiles.
- To duplicate, produce and sell for profit.
- To reassure themselves that their deviant behavior is shared by others and therefore, not
- To seduce children and lower the child's inhibitions as part of the grooming process intended to
model deviant sexual behavior.
I am also troubled because my training and experience suggests that possessors of unlawful images
are sometimes also dangerous on a physical level. Recent research (Hernandez, 2006) suggests that
there may be a correlation between those who possess child pornography and those who are also
“hands-on” contact offenders. Surprising studies of federal prisoners indicated that 85% of those in
custody for possession of unlawful images were also “hands-on” molesters whose contact offenses
had never been discovered.
It disturbs me to know that other professionals agree that there exists a danger that possessors of
unlawful images could escalate and that possessors could eventually offend against real children. Dr.
Chris Hatcher, (1997) Professor of Psychology at the University of California said, "It begins with fantasy,
moves to gratification through pornography, then voyeurism, and finally, to contact." Former FBI profiler
John Douglas (Mindhunter, 1995, p. 108) described a relationship between pornographic images and
sex offenders. He said, "With most sexually based killers, it is a several-step escalation from the fantasy
to the reality, often fueled by pornography, morbid experimentation on animals, and cruelty to peers."
The ramifications of unlawful images was succinctly described in the case of Arizona v. Berger. In 2003,
former Arizona high school teacher Morton Berger was convicted on 20 counts of possession of child
pornography and sentenced to 200 years prison. He appealed the sentence based on arguments of
equal protection under the law and cruel and unusual punishment. In December 2004, the conviction
was affirmed by the Arizona Court of Appeals (State of Arizona, 2004, December 14).
Arizona Judges Susan Ehrlich and Philip Hall dismissed Berger's appeal with opinions that have also
been similarly reflected in previous US Supreme Court rulings. The AZ Appellate Court opinions
included the following excerpts (citations omitted):
- It is evident beyond the need for elaboration that a State's interest in safeguarding the physical
and psychological well-being of a minor is compelling.
- …the victimization of a child continues when that act is memorialized in an image. The materials
produced are a permanent record of the children's participation and the harm to the child is
exacerbated by their circulation. Unfortunately, the victimization of the children involved does not
end when the pornographer's camera is put away
- The legislative judgment…is that the use of children as subjects of pornographic materials is
harmful to the physiological, emotional, and mental health of the child.
- …the possession of child pornography drives that industry and…the production of child
pornography will decrease if those who possess the product are punished equally with those
who produce it.
- ...it (the law) will decrease the production of child pornography if it penalizes those who possess
and view the product, thereby decreasing demand.
- …the possession of child pornography inflames the desires of child molesters, pedophiles and
child pornographers. The State has more than a passing interest in forestalling the damage
caused by child pornography: preventing harm to children is, without cavil, one of its most
- …we cannot fault the State for attempting to stamp out this vice at all levels in the distribution
- Berger downloaded images from the Internet, and every time he visited a website, he
demonstrated to the producers and sellers of child pornography that there was a demand for
their product. Berger's demand served to drive the industry; there need not have been a direct
monetary exchange. Berger maintains also that because his possession of the pornographic
images was passive and because he did not use threats or violence in the commission of his
crimes, his sentence is grossly disproportionate. This logic is abstruse. As was described by this
court in Hazlett, 205 Ariz. at 527 p. 11, 73 P. 3d at 1262, and as is evident from the violent
pornographic images in this case, child pornography is a form of child abuse. The materials
produced are a permanent record of the children's participation and the harm to the child is
exacerbated by their circulation.
Please consider that the imaged victims who were the subject of the defendants’ sexual fantasies are
unable to provide you with a victim impact statement. Try to imagine what they would say if they could
appear before you in court. I know from my training and experience that some victims of child
pornography suffer a lifetime of misery wondering when and where their images will reappear on the
Internet. Researchers found that the effects of unlawful images on child victims are often devastating.
According to Klain, Davies and Hicks (Child pornography, March 2001, p. 10) child sex abuse victims
suffer a multitude of physical and psychological problems.
I am disquieted to know from my training and experience that some offenders are adept at creating
public personas’ as trustworthy and demure persons while they are privately sexually deviant predators.
Offenders sometimes practice techniques enabling them to thwart polygraph and penile plesmograph
tests. They often feign religious transformations and plead for mercy from the court while privately
mocking the justice system and re-offending.
Your Honor, if you viewed the images in this case you may share my feelings and you may also have
empathy for the victims. While I am anguished, I am also fortunate because unlike the victims depicted
in the images, I am able to obtain counseling for my woes and I can use stress management
techniques for my problems. I can turn my sadness into a strengthened resolve to continue to bring
offenders to you for justice.
In the interest of protecting the public, I request that you impose the longest possible period of
incarceration in this case along with lifetime probation and lifetime sex offender registration status for the
defendant. In my humble opinion, a long period of incarceration is the best way to prevent the offender
from victimizing others.
Thank you for considering my statement.
Child pornography and pedophilia: Report made by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of
the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate. (1986). 99th Congress, Second session.
Washington: U.S. G.P.O.1986. iii. 54: 24 cm.
Douglas, J. and Olshaker, M. (1995). Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's elite serial crime unit, New York:
Hatcher, C. (1997, October). Cited in: Armagh, D. A. Safety net for the Internet: Protecting our children.
Juvenile Justice Journal (on-line) Volume V, Number 1, May 1998. Retrieved March 15, 2003. From http:
Hernandez, A. E. (2006, September 26). Statement of Andres E. Hernandez before the Subcommittee
on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce. U.S. House of Representatives.
Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/HernandezTestimonyCongress.
Klain, E.J., Davies, H.J., & Hicks, M.A., (2001, March). Child Pornography: The criminal justice
system response, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law for the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.missingkids.
State of Arizona Division One Court of Appeals. (2004, December 14). Appeal from the Superior Court in
Maricopa County. 1 CA-CR 03-0243. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.cofad1.state.az.
Internet Crimes Against Children