It is now not illegal to view child pornography on the internet in New York.
The state’s Court Of Appeals ruled Tuesday that simply looking at child pornography online does not constitute criminal possession or procurement of the images.
“Rather, some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen,” wrote Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick in a majority opinion of the six-judge ruling, according to MSNBC. “To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct — viewing — that our Legislature has not deemed criminal.”
Judge Victoria A. Graffeo simplified things, writing, “The purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York.”
[View the complete ruling here.]
And how did this all come about? Meet 65-year-old James Kent, a former professor at Marist College whose computer was found to contain pornographic images in 2007. FromThe New York Daily News:
[Kent] was convicted of two counts of procuring and 134 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child. He began his one- to three-year sentence in 2009.
The Court of Appeals agreed that Kent was properly convicted because he had downloaded, saved and deleted 132 images. But the majority said some images in his computer cache, temporary files automatically stored from sites he viewed, cannot be held against him under state law.
The ruling absolved the professor of two of the counts against him, Reuters reports. As for the rest of the counts, Kent is still guilty. According to emails documented in the ruling, Kent may have been collecting the images for a potential research project into child pornography regulation.
Kent claimed, according to MSNBC, that he “abhorred” child pornography, and that someone else must have put the images on his computer.
According to the ruling, one subfolder found on Kent’s computer, “contained approximately 13,000 saved images of female children, whom Investigator Friedman estimated to be 8 or 9 years old, dressed in lingerie or bathing suits and many with their legs spread open.”
On Wednesday, Republican State Senator Martin Golden and Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said they will introduce legislation that will make illegal “knowingly accessing“ child pornography.