Child Pornography and a Murdered Child

When I was a prosecutor, I heard many defense attorneys, defendants, families, and friends argue that the men who possessed or traded in the sexual abuse images of children were not really dangerous to children.  It was “just pictures” or “just looking” or some other “just” excuse that I fought to counter in demanding long jail sentences for those who were quite clearly sexually interested in children, and, therefore, a danger to them.  In case we needed any more ammunition to fight against these specious claims, a recent tragic case is making headlines.  In Missouri, a ten year-old girl was snatched from a neighborhood street in front of witnesses.  The perpetrator is reportedly an elementary school coach previously unknown to the child.  While the witnesses gave police the information about the kidnapper’s car, police were unable to save the little girl’s life. Craig Michael Wood is alleged to have killed the child before police could rescue her.  The press is now reporting that child pornography, printed and in a binder, was seized from Wood’s home after police discovered the child’s body there.  Police also collected computers and other digital devices for examination.

This case shows, again, that those with a deviant sexual interest in children are dangerous.  Why on earth are we taking chances with children’s lives?  So far, there have been no reports of any previous contact between Wood and police on any child-related charges.  Most of the people I prosecuted for sexual offenses against children had no known prior such offenses.  This is, in fact, all too common.  Child predators are good at hiding their true nature from everyone:  friends, family, and co-workers.  They are teachers, police, lawyers, and coaches. They tend to have everyone fooled into thinking they are normal.  I have a haunting question in my mind about whether this tragedy could have been averted.  If investigators had more tools, more resources, and more personnel, would they have uncovered Craig Michael Wood’s penchant for child pornography before he kidnapped and killed this precious little girl?  How many children must suffer before we give law enforcement the resources they need to catch those who prey on our innocent?

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