Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Civil Rights Activist, Child Porn Hound


The Cape Cod Times is reporting on the case of John Perry Ryan a long time civil rights activist who collected and distributed tens of thousands of images of child pornography some of the children were as young as 2 years old.  I found the story interesting because there is a definite peek into the mindset of this child porn collector via Mary Ann Bragg's article:
"A former Cape Cod civil rights activist was sentenced yesterday to 7½ years in prison for what a Vermont federal district court judge called the most 'egregious' child pornography case he'd seen.  John Perry Ryan, 62, of Braintree, Vt., will report to federal prison authorities March 9 to serve his sentence. After serving his prison time, Ryan will be under supervised release for five years, said U.S. District Judge William Sessions in a Burlington courtroom.

Ryan lived in Provincetown and worked across the Cape in the 1980s and '90s on issues involving gay people, Native Americans, AIDS patients, blacks and community policing.  He pleaded guilty last summer, about two weeks before his trial date, to two counts of transporting child pornography. U.S. immigration authorities first learned of his Internet activity following a tip from Swiss officials that in 2006 Ryan was communicating with an individual in Switzerland. While the case involved the Swiss person was pending, the government learned Ryan had also allegedly sent child pornography to a person in Seattle.  The tens of thousands of images and videos on his computer included children as young as 2 and sadomasochistic acts involving children.

During the three hours of proceedings in the fifth-floor courtroom, Ryan sat attentively, with his fingers sometimes pressed against his lips. When he stood and spoke asking for leniency, he seemed invigorated as though debating an issue of public importance. He has a slight stoop and appeared to have difficulty hearing at times.  'I had all this time on my hands,' he said. 'I have an obsessive personality. I was sitting there pressing a button and things are going to the farthest corner of the earth.'

Dressed in a work shirt and casual pants, he left the courtroom with a solemn look on his face yesterday. He declined to comment.  In the hallway outside the courtroom, his partner, John Caruso, cried as a dozen friends gathered around. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Fuller brushed quickly past and disappeared around a corner.

Michael Touchette, a forensic examiner of digital media testified yesterday there were about 24,000 pornography photographs on a computer taken from Ryan's home. About half had been looked at, Touchette said. Many were of children between the ages of 2 and 14 engaged in sexual acts, some with adults. Some photos showed sadomasochistic images of children, those who 'appeared to be distraught or in harm's way,' he said.  Ryan also had about 100 child pornography videos on his computer, Touchette said. He read through chats that Ryan had participated in, one of which referred to children as a profane type of 'meat,' he said. In one line of chat conversation, Ryan said he wanted to "snuff," or kill a child after sex. Another of Ryan's chat lines, Touchette said, was 'the younger the better.'

'It's not a standard child pornography case,' said Fuller in court. "'Sucker punch them in the mouth to make them submit.' Who writes that?' During the period covered by the charges, investigators matched Ryan's activity on the computer as a time when Caruso was scheduled to be at work, according to court records.

Ryan told the court yesterday he'd become involved in child pornography during an isolated period at home in Vermont. He said he was partly interested in researching adult taboos and other fantasies that adults kept secret until the advent of the Internet. Ryan said he was a computer novice, having first gotten a computer in 2002. He said he got obsessed with pressing 'the button' on his computer, and sometimes didn't realize the volume of photos he was downloading.  He started looking at child pornography when someone in an Internet chat room sent him a link, he said. Over time, Ryan said he began to dissociate himself from the content of the images and the chats he had. He characterized himself as a person who would never hurt a child.  As part of his sentencing — and upon his release from prison — Ryan will have to register as a sex offender in any state where he resides or is active, Sessions said.

Seven people who are friends of Ryan's spoke to Sessions asking for leniency.  Ryan has been confined to his home with an electronic bracelet since his arraignment in 2007. His supporters had hoped for a similar set-up for his sentence. 'I traveled from Cape Cod to try and prevent what I perceive is a real tragedy, sending John to prison,' said Bourne attorney Lee Berger, who met Ryan during a civil rights issue with the Wampanoag tribe in Mashpee"
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This case supports one of the points I made previously about Child Porn arising as "content" in response to the development of internet technologies; and, the story is proof of the ensnaring aspect of the same technology. 

This "perp" describes something I believe to be the case for many users of the internet, including me, the internet is addictive.  The anonymity allows you to explore aspects of your character which can get pretty ugly and in Mr. Ryan's case, illegal.  The other aspect of this story that is interesting for me is that Mr. Ryan appears to have been a gay man in a loving relationship with a committed partner.  People involved in child porn can not be characterized by class, politics, education, sexual orientation, or occupation.

5 comments:

  1. This is possibly the most thoughtful and rational commentary on the Ryan case that I've read since the story broke.

    In many such cases, absent sentencing enhancements like a prior criminal record or volume of images (as in this case), a sentence is nominally the minimum - five years. Given the other factors, including Ryan's considerable background in quite selflessly helping the less fortunate, to a degree that we don't often see, the sentence was fair. That shouldn't be a surprise since Judge Sessions chairs the US Sentencing Commission and is not given to sentencing "drift."

    Ryan likely could have traded down to something closer to the minimum had he not opted to turn his case into something of a First and Fourth Amendment cause. His strategy failed to factor in the likelihood of images obtained from him existing on other computers similarly seized. Had his second indictment not put him away, I'm sure that other cases remained ready to go like eggs in a hen.

    Coincidentally, the second case involved a Washington state child porn trader who, similarly, was in a loving relationship. He opted to plead guilty right off and his wife was then able to keep their home. Ryan lost the family home in the second case when that charge was added to the second indictment.

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  2. Anon 11:26--thank you for your insights. These stories at Bad Lawyer are in many ways about us, collectively--who we are, what effect we have on others, our hubris, and our failures. Or at least mine.

    BL

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  3. Ryan is a sick and dangerous person. He should have gotten a life sentence.

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  4. This man exposed himself to children in the late 90's in Provincetown. He was never charged because he was close friends with the Town Manager and the Chief of Police Robert Anthony. These two men are fully responsible for letting this John Perry Ryan loose to commit these crimes especially Anthony. For more info call Wayne at 508 237 3486

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  5. Bloody sick. I knew Bowersox who is a child raping gay cop this blog author back linked to this blog when talking about him. http://badlawyernyc.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-porn-even-police-do-it.html?showComment=1402511635490#c209671925618303335

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