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REVEALED: Biden's SCOTUS nom gave light sentences in child porn cases involving 'sadomasochistic' torture of babies

In the case of one child porn distributor, among the over 600 images that prosecutors said the sex offender traded were sexually explicit images depicting bondage of infants and toddlers.

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In a number of past cases involving child pornography, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson handed down light sentences that were well below prison recommendations, citing what she sees is a need for a new standard in the criminal evaluation for trials involving child sexual abuse images in the digital age.

An investigation from the New York Post looked into eight child porn cases in which Jackson handed down the lightest possible punishments after hearing harrowing details of "sadomasochistic" torture of young kids including "infants and toddlers," according to transcripts of sentencing hearings.

The Post highlighted eight separate trials.

In July 2020, Jackson gave the bare minimum sentence to a defendant convicted of distributing images and videos of infants being sexually abused, a transcript revealed. In 2018, Christopher Michael Downs was caught trading child porn in a private online chat room, "Pedos Only," including images of adult males raping "a prepubescent female child," court records show. Downs posted 33 graphic photos, including an image of a naked female child as young as 2-years-old. He also uploaded a 10-second video of "a prepubescent female lying in a bathtub and with an adult male inserting his penis into her mouth," The Post reported.

In the April 2021 sentencing of child porn distributor Ryan Manning Cooper, among the over 600 images prosecutors told the judge he traded were sexually explicit pictures depicting bondage of infants and toddlers. Prosecutors also busted Cooper with a video of a "pre-pubescent boy being penetrated anally and orally."

In United States vs. Cooper, the prosecutor asked for 72 months. Jackson imposed 60 months. In United States vs. Downs, the prosecutor asked for 70 months. Jackson imposed 60 months. The guidelines recommended 70 to 87 months.

The 2013 case of Wesley Keith Hawkins who was caught uploading videos showing boys as young as 11-years-old being anally raped to YouTube and the 2015 case of Neil Alexander Stewart and his collection of hundreds of child sex abuse images were among the disturbing cases also outlined that came before Jackson.

The judge gave Hawkins "a slap on the wrist," according to The Post. Instead of the two years of prison that prosecutors asked for, Jackson gave Hawkins just three months. In the latter case, Jackson gave Stewart 57 months in jail, which fell well short of the 97 months prosecutors had asked for.

Republican senators like Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas used an examination of these verdicts to question Jackson's qualifications to become a Supreme Court justices. Why, they argue, would someone charged with upholding the law, chose to render lenient sentences to some of the most deprived minds?

In these cases, Jackson argued that current-day technological advantages have made it easier for offenders to disseminate or collect child pornography.

But the images in these cases ranged from suggestive to truely disturbing. As the New York Post reported, some of them went so far as to depict child torture.

In 2013, Hawkins was caught with graphic child pornography on his laptop at the age of 18. According to the testimony heard in court, Hawkins had conflicting feelings about his sexual identity and, unable to discuss the matter with his religious family, turned to online mediums to explore his sexuality. That exploration put Hawkins on a dark path. The files discovered on the pedophile's personal device displayed graphic images of young prepubescent boys involved in sexual activities. The images were described as violent in nature.

Hawkins then chose to post some of that shocking and vile content to video-sharing platform YouTube, which quickly caught the attention of law enforcement. When confronted with the evidence of his actions, Hawkins did not attempt to pass blame, instead choosing to take "full responsibility for his actions."

His legal representation asked for his sentence to be limited to a single day in prison, and the prosecution asked for a sentence of 24 months. Jackson then sentenced Hawkins to mere months in prison. As part of the sentence, Hawkins would also receive six years of supervised release following his time in jail.

What further set the Hawkins case apart was the language that Jackson used to render her decision. "I also feel terrible about the collateral consequences of this conviction," Jackson said at the time. "Sex offenders are truly shunned in our society, but I have no control over the collateral consequences."

"Youth and inexperience may have clouded your judgment," Jackson said. "There's no reason to believe you are a pedophile or that you pose any risk to children, so It’s not necessary to incapacitate you in order to protect the public."

Jackson noted that Hawkins had not attempted to create any explicit material on his own. Instead, she suggested that it might be time to re-visit the evaluation of how child pornography—and its dissemination—had become increasingly easy in the modern age. That reasoning was a trend that continued through her decisions in other trials involving child pornography—a reasoning that she used to deliver sentences that were sometimes far below the recommended guidelines.

Earlier in the year, the American Accountability Foundation uncovered a paper written by Jackson in the Harvard Law Review where she argued the unconstitutionality of certain preventative measures adopted as common practices by state governments and applied to convicted sex offenders.

"In the current climate of fear, hatred, and revenge associated with the release of convicted sex criminals, courts must be especially atten­tive to legislative enactments that use public health and safety rhetoric to justify procedures that are, in essence, punishment and detention," Brown wrote.

Now caught in the national spotlight, these considerations have brought Jackson criticism from conservative lawmakers as they continue evaluating her nomination to the Supreme Court. Beginning next week, Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court on Monday.

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