I write often about the double standard that applies to women who commit sex offenses. Female sex offenders are less likely to be reported, less likely to be arrested, less likely to be charged, less likely to face trial, less likely to be convicted, less likely to receive jail sentences, and less likely to receive lengthy sentences compared to male sex offenders. This occurs regardless of the nature of the abuse, the number of victims involved, or the impact of the abuse on the victims. We see this in numerous cases in which police, prosecutors, and judges will admit that the women’s violence severely harmed the child only to have the women walk away with suspended sentences and probation, often without having to register as sex offenders.
The one instance in which one would expect this not to occur is in child pornography cases. The reason is that the cases hinge on the creation, possession, and distribution of the images or videos. The only thing necessary to demonstrate any of the three is evidence that the person has the images or videos. If the state can demonstrate this, which it usually can, there is no reason why a woman possessing hundreds of pictures of children engaged in sex acts should receive a different sentence than a man with the same types of images.
But Alaska decided to prove this basic logic wrong:
A former Alaska woman who was sexually abused by her paternal grandfather and then, as an adult, downloaded and traded videos of child exploitation has avoided any jail.
Brittany Alexandra Robinson, 25 was the first woman in Alaska to be charged with possessing and distributing child pornography, according to Anchorage police.
Let us stop here to note two things.
One: how is it possible that there have never been any Alaskan women charged with possessing and distributing child porn? It seems highly unlikely that Robinson is the only woman in Alaska who owns and trades such materials.
Two: instead of noting that Robinson committed a crime, the article begins by painting her as a victim. Robinson’s abuse played a role in the decision in this case, yet it seems odd that this is the lead in for an article about a woman who broke the law by engaging in child exploitation.
Let us continue:
A former day care worker at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Robinson received a prison-free sentence on Thursday. Superior Court Judge Kevin M. Saxby agreed with Robinson’s public defender that three years in prison, with three suspended, and five years of probation was appropriate.
“I do find good prospects for rehabilitation here based on the evaluation that was provided to me and the testimony I have heard, including Ms. Robinson’s short, but I’m convinced, heartfelt, expression of remorse,” Saxby said before imposing the sentence.
Prior to hearing her sentence, Robinson addressed the court, wiping tears from her eyes and taking deep breaths before speaking.
“I’m deeply sorry that this has happened. I understand the severity of the situation. And I recognize that I need to heal from the trauma that I experienced in life. I know that with the support of the people around me I can move forward in a positive direction to ensure that nothing like this happens again,” said Robinson, who now lives out of state and is the mother of a three-year-old child.
Where is the remorse? It does not sound like Robinson is sorry that she downloaded and traded child porn. It sounded like she is sorry that she was abused as a child. There is no admission in her comment that what she did was even wrong. She only acknowledges the “severity of the situation”.
Secondly, this woman has a child who is apparently still in her custody despite her repeatedly downloading and trading images of children engaged in sex. Imagine the reverse situation. Imagine that a man who was abused as a child downloaded child porn and failed to acknowledge that what he did was wrong. What is the likelihood that he would walk with no prison time or any requirement to register as a sex offender? What is the likelihood that he would be allowed to keep custody of his child?
This article also fails to mention an important fact: Robinson worked as a military day care worker. This is a person who had regular access to small children who, according state Office of Special Prosecutions attorney Adam Alexander, repeatedly downloaded and viewed “a pretty significant” amount of “pretty terrible images of child exploitation.” Alexander went on to state:
Nothing excuses the fact that Robinson — “in an awful case of irony” — was responsible for perpetuating the sexual exploitation of children in a way that was “very similar to some of her own experiences,” Alexander said.
This article presents Robinson as a victim, detailing the abuse she and her sister suffered at the hands of their grandfather. However, the article fails again to note just what Robinson did. Another article provides better insight:
A detective using special software found an Internet Protocol, or IP, address connected to a computer that was sharing illegal files. The files contained keywords indicating they were possibly child pornography. The IP address appeared to be in Alaska, and further investigation led the detective to a peer-to-peer file-sharing network.
The detective’s software allowed him to monitor what the person was downloading from the network and allowed detectives to open and view the files. Several pages of the charging document describe, in detail, dozens of images of children being forced to perform sex acts.
After looking up the IP address and learning it was associated to a General Communications Inc. customer in the Anchorage area, the detective obtained a subpoena ordering GCI to give up the customer’s name.
With a search warrant in hand, the detectives and investigators with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations went to the Robinson’s Fairchild Avenue home April 9. In an interview, Robinson’s husband said they owned two laptop computers, an iPad and another hard drive. One of the laptops was his, he said, and Robinson did not use it. The other he had bought for her as a Valentine’s Day present this year.
Then the detectives interviewed Brittany, who said she used the same file-sharing program discovered earlier in the investigation to download music and movies.
“She said the file names she had seen had multiple words in them so she sometimes got what she wasn’t expecting,” the charges say. “She said she would get pornography that involved children.”
But the detectives knew Brittany had actively searched for child porn. Using forensic software, they found traces on her computer of the same files they had seen Robinson downloading. There were remnants of similar files in Robinson’s password-protected account on her husband’s computer. The computer had a fingerprint scanner that only allowed Robinson to open her account, indicating she was the only one with access to it.
That does not sound like someone accidentally downloading child porn. That sounds like someone deliberately trying to hide what she is doing. To further show how savvy Robinson behaved, after the authorities interviewed her, Robinson apparently suspected she would be charged with a crime and was prepared to the 10% of her $5,000 bond immediately, thereby avoiding going jail. As a result, she has never spent a day in jail.
Everything about this case appears to give this woman a complete slap on the wrist. Just for comparison, here is a case that happened in a suburb of Chicago recently:
An Elgin man, who works as a Naperville firefighter, was charged with possession of pornographic images of children after police executed a search warrant on his home and confiscated a computer with lewd images of children on it, authorities said.
Louis J. DiGrazia IV, 47, of the 900 block of Glenmore Lane, Elgin, is charged with five counts of possession of child pornography, each a Class X felony, according to a Kane County State’s Attorney’s press release.
DiGrazia posted 10 percent of his $200,000 bond and was released, according to Elgin police. Under his bond conditions, he is to have no unsupervised contact with children younger than 18 and he is prohibited from accessing the Internet, the release stated.
DiGrazia and Robinson engaged in the same behavior, downloaded the same types of images, and yet DiGrazia receive forty times the bond Robinson received and was barred from interacting with minors or accessing the internet.
Instead of receiving anything remotely close to an actual punishment:
In October 2015, the defense and prosecution reached a plea deal in which Robinson agreed to plead guilty to a single count of indecent viewing of photography.
Alexander said the case presented prosecution challenges because Robinson was both “a victim as a child and an offender as a young woman “in fairly short order.”
None of the articles I read stated when Roger Paul Ward, Robinson’s grandfather, was convicted and sentenced. It does not appear, however, that the abuse occurred recently as the article states that Ward was recently released from a “lengthy” sentence and faced 20 years on the two counts of sexual abuse. So this claim that Robinson went from victim to offender in short order does not hold up.
Likewise, this argument does not apply to men or boys. Here is an article detailing how a number of victims of a serial child rapist working as a probation officer later became offenders. Not one of them received a pass despite them being victims of a notorious child rapist. Not one of them received any sympathy for the systematic abuse they suffered and how it affected their lives. In contrast:
“This gives us the opportunity to understand in a very direct fashion the long-term consequence that an adult’s exploitation of a child has on that child as the child grows older, and that’s what we’re seeing here with Ms. Robinson,” Alexander told the court.
This could be done while she is prison. Researchers do it all the time. The authorities could set up appointments with Robinson and discuss how her grandfather’s abuse affected her life. None of that requires her to receive a complete lack of punishment for repeatedly downloading and distributing child porn.
Yet that is not the worst part. This is:
Saxby said Robinson’s behavior was compulsive and wrong. But he said the evidence showed that the defendant’s acquisition of child pornography was not for her own gratification but rather “it was more exploratory.”
That’s how her public defender described the behavior too.
“Ms. Robinson wasn’t looking at these images for sexual gratification. It was more that she identified with the victims in the case,” Torres said.
This is a person who, according to detectives, actively searched for child porn and hid the images and videos using fingerprint encryption. She also traded the images and videos with other people for months.
I have a somewhat active imagination. I do not have much difficulty getting into other people’s mindsets. Yet I cannot fathom who would repeatedly seek out images and videos of child rape in order to identify with the victims. One would think one image or video would be sufficient. The only thing I can come up with to explain her repeated downloads is that she was trying to find something that exactly matched her experiences. That strikes me as something so random and unlikely to find that one would think she would give up.
I would sooner accept the notion that she wanted to see how other child were abused than this ridiculous idea that she repeatedly downloaded and traded child porn because she identified with the victims. It sounds like complete bullshit. My apologies for the language, yet there is no other word for it. It is bullshit, and the state of Alaska accepted it, and not only allowed this woman face no jail time, but allowed her to keep custody of a child.
That is the most baffling part because Robinson has shown she lacks the moral and ethical restraints to prevent her from abusing other people. She fails to see her behavior as wrong as she does, and when she realizes its nature afterward, she tries to conceal it. If anything were ever an indication that this person were a risk to children, the above would be it.
It is astounding this woman was allowed to go free.