Raise the penalties for preying on children
A 43-year old Millsboro man has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Federal officials say he now faces at least 25 years in prison, possibly 50.
This is a man who was convicted of sexually harassing a child in 1994. In 2003, he was convicted on two more charges: using a computer to depict exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.
Three strikes should have been more than enough evidence that this man should be kept away from children for life.
But in 2013, he was living in an apartment in Millsboro. He lured a child off the street and raped him, recording it all on his cellphone. Police who searched his apartment found hundreds of pornographic images involving young boys.
This community has endured the crimes of pedophile Earl Bradley, whose victims now number more than 1,000. Yet this case raises new fears and new questions.
Parents who can bear to read about this case must ask themselves how it is possible to protect children without instilling fear that every person a child meets is dangerous.
Justice officials have publicized numerous arrests and convictions of child predators, so many it could have the effect of lulling parents into thinking Delaware has this problem under control.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as this case demonstrates. This criminal abused children and was prosecuted; nine years later, he was convicted of more serious crimes against children. Was this not proof enough he is unfit for society? Did we really have to wait until he moved to Millsboro and found more children to victimize before he faced a long prison term?
Child predators cut deeply into the bonds that form community. They must face steep penalties on the first offense, and extended prison terms for even the slightest subsequent offenses. Delaware should lead the way to raise the penalties and banish child predators.
But make no mistake. Child porn is a huge industry, generating an estimated $3 billion annually. Millions of people access it daily over the internet. Safety for our children demands an end to these horrifying profits.