Possessing And Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material Is A Crime

An Alabama man is sentenced to life in prison for his involvement with a website dedicated to the advertisement and distribution of images and videos depicting child sexual abuse.

William Michael Spearman, 58, of Madison, Alabama, was the lead administrator of the website which had been operating for many years, according to court documents. The website also had a section devoted to avoiding detection by law enforcement, among others.

Spearman was the lead administrator responsible for managing numerous other "staff" members. He directed them on how to help run the site. He also recommended other users for promotion. He was also responsible for keeping records of child sexual abuse material advertised and distributed over the site.

Spearman pled guilty to engaging in a child exploitation enterprise on June 12, 2023. Other defendants who have also been convicted and sentenced in the Southern District of Florida for being involved with the same website are: Selwyn David Rosenstein, Gregory Malcolm Good, Robert Preston Boyles, Matthew Branden Garrell, Joseph Addison Martin, and Joseph Robert Stewart. All pled guilty to various charges against them. Office of Public Affairs, U.S. DOJ, "Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Running Child Sexual Abuse Material Website" https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-sentenced-life-prison-running-child-sexual-abuse-material-website (Jan. 23, 2024).

Commentary and Checklist

CSAM ("child sexual abuse material") is a form of child sexual abuse. The creation, possession, or distribution of CSAM is child pornography - a crime.

According to rainn.org, CSAM is widely distributed online. In fact, in 2021 alone, more than 29 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation were reported by online platforms to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's CyberTipline, and that number continues to increase. The 29 million reports included 84.9 million images and videos of CSAM.

In 2022, statista.com stated that Facebook reported approximately 21 million pieces of CSAM on its platform and Instagram reported around five million. WhatsApp reported about one million pieces of CSAM during the same period.

What should safe adults do if they come across CSAM?

·  Do not share the content or comment on it, even to report it, because that can also be a crime.

·  Report it to the platform where you found it.

·  Report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the clearinghouse for all reports of online child sexual exploitation in the United States. This is the only organization in the U.S. that can legally field reports of online child sexual exploitation. If NCMEC determines it to be a valid report of CSAM or CSEC, they will connect with the appropriate agencies for investigation.

·  Fill out a CyberTipline report. https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertipline


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