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The New York Times Misses the Point: Not Preventing Children from Being Sexually Victimized Would be the Real Misservice to Society
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In the News

At Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), we are extremely proud to play a small part in helping to protect our society’s largest silent political constituency—the children.

A just published New York Times magazine piece raised the issue of whether one law enforcement program trying to address the problem of child exploitation, Operation “Net Nanny” in Washington State, is the right approach to apprehending would-be child sexual predators.

The Times’ reporting questions whether hundreds of perpetrators, particularly some young men in their 20s, who have been identified, arrested, and successfully prosecuted for taking part in online “Net Nanny” sting operations, are being unfairly targeted and too harshly punished.

Following our mission to help protect children from sexual exploitation, our organization has become a strong supporter of Operation “Net Nanny,” a preventative-minded child protection initiative the New York Times acknowledges has a 95% conviction rate in hundreds of cases that have gone to trial. O.U.R. is proud to back this effort and others that help prevent children from being sexually victimized in the first place.

The select cases highlighted by the New York Times (out of hundreds) were largely those of young men in their 20s with no prior criminal records. The Times chose to only mention in passing that “some caught in stings are violent predators.” This included 60-year-old Curtis Pouncy, whom the Times noted has “a history of brutal sex crimes” that “included raping a 13-year-old girl he picked up from a bus station as well as a 19-year-old at knife point.” Pouncy was arrested in a Washington State “Net Nanny” operation while on supervised release in early 2019. He is now serving life in prison.

One of the hundreds of cases the Times did not highlight was that of Bryan Earle Glant, 24, of Seattle. Glant, a well-resourced young man, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to nine years in prison on two counts of attempted first-degree rape of a child. Emails and text messages contained in his court record show Glant arranging through online communication to meet “Hannah,” a police officer posing as a mother, to engage in sex acts with her two daughters, ages 6 and 11. Glant did not just discuss doing something online. His messages were not the mere unguided explorations of a young man. No. He acted, showing up at the agreed location with lubricant in his pocket.

Imagine if police and their Net Nanny operation were not on the other side of the door that day. How would the lives of those 6- and 11-year-old children have been different?

At his trial and on appeal, Glant unsuccessfully tried to argue that O.U.R.’s support of the “Net Nanny” program was “outrageous government conduct.” We were pleased that the court rightfully dismissed those claims. We are also pleased the court reaffirmed our lawful ability and efforts to provide tools and resources to help law enforcement agencies get those who chose to prey on our children off our streets.

The New York Times led readers to believe that there were “no victims” in “Net Nanny” cases. This is not factual. “Net Nanny” cases did result in the rescuing of actual victims. While the “Net Nanny” arrests of perpetrators did not involve physical contact with a child, in several cases victims of those arrested came forward or the Washington State Police found evidence where the predators did sexually abuse a minor. The majority of victims who came forward in “Net Nanny” cases were under the age of 11.

Throughout the life of the “Net Nanny” program, law enforcement involved in its supervised multi-jurisdictional operations followed protocols—and the judicial system agreed, clearly finding there was no entrapment under long-standing and tested legal standards.

How the judicial system decides to serve justice on those lawfully charged with violating the law is an issue left for each state to determine, including the severity of sentencing for convicted child sex offenders.

In the end, keeping child predators off the street is paramount, and we will always support law enforcement in their legal efforts to protect children, hopefully before they are preyed upon.

We believe among the best tactics in the fight to bring child sex exploiters, propagators, and abusers to justice is supporting and helping arm the good guys with better technology and expertise. Domestically, this involves public/private partnerships that help support the nation’s law enforcement officers and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local levels in their important work by providing technology, software, expertise, and training where taxpayer budgets fall short.

This also involves sharing the latest intelligence we glean through legally authorized work O.U.R. does internationally with law enforcement, NGOs, and governments to help rescue victims of child sex exploitation, abuse, and trafficking. To date, O.U.R. has assisted in the rescue of more than 4,000 victims globally since our first international operation in 2014.

Since our founding, O.U.R. has always worked hand in hand with law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad, and we will continue to do so, helping to provide the necessary ammunition so they are well-armed and equipped to stop predatory trollers seeking their next child victim.

Our team is composed of top former federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals experienced in child exploitation, trafficking, and digital world policing. One of our newest team members is the former head of the Washington State Patrol “Net Nanny” program, Carlos Rodriguez, who joined O.U.R. this year following a distinguished 27-year law enforcement career.

We are honored to have Carlos on our team now. Together with professionals at all levels of the public and private sectors, we can pool our knowledge, resources, and collective passion to protect children at home and abroad to make sure shrinking budgets never deter anyone from the ultimate goal: safeguarding innocent children and bringing guilty perpetrators who seek to prey on them to justice.  

Law enforcement and child protection advocacy groups have done unheralded yeoman’s work in the past 20 years to strengthen efforts to combat the unconscionable exploitation of children. But there remains so much more that must be done.

Today, the sad truth is this: we still do not know the full extent of the enticement, exploitation, and in far too many instances, the sexual assault, of children. In the U.S., the most developed nation in the world, the country’s leading measure of criminal victimization—the National Crime Victimization Survey—still does not measure crimes against children under 12.

Those who want to underestimate scale of the problem or claim to know with certainty who is motivated to criminally victimize a child in the many forms it takes are not being truthful. We simply don’t know.

What we do know with certainty is that with each passing day, our children are becoming even more dependent on the Internet and increasingly engaged in the exploration of online and digital virtual worlds, even more so in the present moment with millions still staying home because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Honestly ask yourself this question—in the world we live in today, do we want law enforcement to have more resources, tools, and public and private support to combat child exploitation and abuse, or not? 

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Comments
(32)
Kathleen Hambrick
2020-08-28 20:26:52
Did you just say the 'dark corners of pornography'? As in the 'sin' of desire for sexual contact? Wow. I do not believe you can judge another persons sexuality other than those who wish to harm children. The whole point of the NYT story is if they are catching people who do NOT wish to harm a child then the task force is NOT protecting children. Saying 'how would you feel if someone raped your child' is repugnant, inflammatory, and illogical. You are saying to me that you do not care if a few innocent men go to prison as long as ANY predator is actually caught in these stings. Why is it a choice? Can't we all be careful NOT to put innocent men in prison AND save children's lives? Your logic is dangerous.
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Theresa Martin
2020-09-07 05:22:49
Innocent men are not showing up with condoms, lubricant, and booze for some time with who they believe to be children.
The truth hurts sometimes
2020-09-07 22:30:08
Kathleen, your constant and unhealthy coddling of your son has greatly lead him down this path. If you can't see that then you're just lying to yourself. Selling your house and buying and RV just to be closer to your pedophile son who is in prison is not healthy at all. He knew that the girl he was going to try and meet was a 13 year old. Stop trying to make excuses for his actions and start treating him like an adult and the little innocent baby you think he is. It's not only the actual people who, have the intention to, or actually harm children that are the problem, it's also you, Kathleen, who is an enabler to these types of behaviors by trying to protect your son anyway you can and by not calling it what it is, intent to have sex with a little girl, pedophilia. Too many times victims suffer because family members of the pedophile try and hide or make excuses for their own family. They think they are doing what's best for their family member by trying to cover up and make excuses because they (love) them. Real love would be telling your son that what he did/attempted to do is wrong and there are no excuses for it. If you keep telling him he was "setup" or "didn't do anything wrong" you're part of the problem and he will never grow up and better himself as a person.
Samuel Washington
2020-08-28 21:35:53
I'm very disturbed by OUR's interpretation of justice and to call out a person who was NOT named in the NY Times Magazine article. That seems like bottom feeding to me. His family fought VERY hard and uncovered A LOT of injustice with these sting operations. Violations of WSP IAD and the ICAC Operation Manual (Section 8.6). All very clear. Working tightly with prosecutors, using loopholes in the law--clearly exploiting the laws. It might be "legal" but morally and ethically it is wrong. The tactics employed make the whole Net Nanny Operation no better than Satan tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden. What would you rather do, put 100 men behind bars or have a few "potential victims." I can tell you I choose to save the 100 men and their families and future generations. Doing the right thing is not tricking, temping, luring, non criminals with no predisposition to show up at a trap house. We are reaching new lows in this country everyday. Nine deaths due to this operation over 5 years - 3% death/suicide rate, 92% have no history of violent crime, 89% no CP. These operations aren't catching who they think they are catching. It is a ruse, a padding of numbers. WAKE UP!
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Stephanie Yeatts
2020-09-01 21:07:52
A few “potential victims”. I’m extremely offended by your post and REALLY hope you don’t have kids.
Arlene
2020-08-29 21:28:22
I am using an alternate name to protect individuals so that I can describe actual experiences. I was raped repeatedly starting when I was four years old by a teenager. I found out later that he also raped my best friend, and I am also sure it happened to others. He was not a person that anyone would expect of such behavior. My friend and I did not tell, but it did some damage to us. Thankfully, my parents taught me of my value so I could overcome better. I always felt God's protection of my soul, but I hid many of my wounds down deep. When I was older and more capable of handling it, I had those stuffed wounds explode in my psyche. The Lord literally dropped a specific book, Secrets, on my doorstep to help me use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to heal my wounds, which included forgiving the perp. Much like Elizabeth Smart, I was able to use my ordeal to help others who suffer. I want to explain more about the perp. He also went through a healing process through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As part of that process, he contacted me to make amends. I had already forgiven him, but it gave me great comfort to see that he had fully repented. He had taken this evil path because he got caught up in pornography and this addiction caused him to choose to do things radically different than what his parents had taught him. It led to other problems later in his life that destroyed his first marriage. However, after his divorce, he sought help from his church to overcome his addiction, which eventually led to his contacting me. Currently, he has a son in jail because the sons was caught by police involved in viewing child pornography. His ex-wife begged him to fight to get their son out of jail, but he told me that the Lord told him that his son needed that experience to get away from that evil. He visits his son often to counsel with him and help him enjoy the healing he experienced as well. I am very supportive of all efforts to protect children and help perps and potential perps get out of this evil practice. We need all hands-on deck.
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Monique
2020-08-30 14:22:29
Gordon, I very much appreciate your ability to discuss and be open to my thoughts on it as well. That says a lot about you. I agree with you that we should be considering unique ways to rehabilitate individuals in all areas of our prison systems. It is messed up in a lot of ways. You have a fresh perspective on giving rape victims the chance to set parameters around the punishment guidelines and ways to incorporate their healing along with it. The only thing I am concerned with is that in this case we are talking about minors who are easily manipulated and haven't fully developed their brains and ability to rationalize. I think we both agree that adult males really have no business hanging out alone with young girls. Good luck in your studies. I terms of Kathleen's response to mine, I don't think this man would be guilty of this crime had he not been on the internet searching for such material. These "stings" didn't lure men in by physical coercion. They need to be held accountable for their own actions. They were not forced into thinking that behavior is appropriate. All pornography is a sin. Despite the fact that she believes adult porn is legal and fine by all standards, the truth is that most of the actors and actresses are lonely looking for love in the wrong place. Sex was designed to be good, but we as sinful people(myself included) have distorted that in many ways outside of a husband and wife marriage. I hope we can join together to fight the new drug and overcome the battles that many men and women face because of pornography addiction. It starts with shedding light onto the problem and then being filled with grace to battle this war against the souls of people.
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Arlene
2020-08-31 02:43:13
How do we prepare children to thrive not just to survive these horrendously evil acts in a way they can comprehend and use? You teach them they are an infinitely valued child. You teach them how to love one another. You teach them the process of repentance, which means you need to look at how your actions affect those around you. You need to take responsibility for your actions with no excuses. You need to do what you can to restore what you destroyed and ask forgiveness from your victim so they can be free of the hate and resentment they carry in their hearts. You need to forgive those who offend you, so you do not have to own their poison. This is the process of activating the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that my parents taught me as a child even though they had no idea that I had been raped. Since I understood that process well for all sorts of sins and hurts, I could apply it to any situation to have a strong sense of peace about my value and ability to do good. These same principles are in the process described by Gordon as “restorative justice,” which is much more effective than simple punishment. Obviously, a child or other mentally diminished victim would not be expected to create the plan alone, but they should be consulted to ensure their needs are addressed in the plan. To return to the original premise of the article our comments are posted with, as a thriving survivor of childhood rape, I am very supportive of law enforcement using tools such as Operation Net Nanny to expose perpetrators and put them in the criminal justice system for several valid reasons: 1. Provides a way for forces of good to shine light on evil so it can be corrected. 2. Provides a way to give justice to the innocent victims. 3. Warning to would be perps that they risk exposure—deterrent. 4. Reduce the number of victims. However, this is just getting the sick patient to the doctor. We need an effective treatment to cure the patient or a way to isolate that patient, so he/she does not infect others if his/her choices make him/her incurable. One more thought: there is no such thing as a victimless crime since we destroy ourselves when commit crime, as well as how we hurt those around us.
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Destiny Benavides
2020-08-31 16:28:17
#SaveOurChildren
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Hope
2020-09-04 17:10:21
All physiologist/psychiatrists think they can save the world, right now they need to save the children! Children need to go back to school, they are lockdown with their abusers. I am one of 9 kids in my family with a mentally /physically abusive father, our way to school we would thank God that we were safe 6 hours Without our abuser! If we only had something like net nanny then. Im not well educated, don’t have a family and am afraid to live life while my father is enjoying his! He left us scarred afraid to have kids because we couldn’t bare to see them ever getting hurt the way we were! He was in and out of jail for rapping us but he was able to convince the devil,. Psychiatrist after psychiatrist thinking they made some great change. He to this day never changed. They should of been there for us, all of us have some kind of mental problems. I have been trying to voice my opinion that these kids need to get back to school where there are councilors to help them! Please save the children!
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Arlene
2020-09-04 21:05:57
Hope, saving the children needs to be the motivating reason for everything, including working to change the character of the perp so more children are not abused. I am sorry that your safety was not a bigger priority to those who signed off to your father returning to your home. There needs to be a bigger safety net for children to help them heal and become resilient. I recognize that as a big priority of O.U.R. I am curious about what kind of support you received and what would have helped you more besides leaving your father in jail? At a minimum, there should be a testing period for a repentant perp to PROVE they have changed. An opinion of a psychiatrist/psychologist, no matter how smart they are, should not replace empirical evidence because perps are often effective con artists. If the child is not ready to handle the risk AND have protection from a relapse, the perp should not be able to return to the home no matter if the perp has actually changed or not. This is part of the perp taking responsibility for the consequences of their crime and putting the needs of the child first. Without this important step, it is not possible for the perp to overcome their addiction to evil and they will return to it like a dog to their vomit.
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Hope
2020-09-17 09:16:50
My father got out of jail because our pastor of our church, his best friend and my mom. You see we went to school and talked with a counselor and instead of calling a social worker and have all nine of us kids taken out of our house, the counselor said they will send a social worker to our house and talk to us and our father. Well we immediately said never mind we made the whole thing up. Because if a social worker were to come over we would have to tell her in front of our father what he was doing, we could never do that because we were sooo afraid of him and we feared he would kill us. So what did the school do they sent a social work over and when she left all nine of us got the beating of our life’s, my older sister got it the worst because my father said she was the oldest and she needs to set the example! He took her to the woods behind us when they came back she was naked, swollen and bleeding so bad we didn’t recognize her! When we were all out of the house I asked my sister what happened she said father told her to take off her clothes he preceded to beat her with a branch to an inch of her life, she said she thought she was going to die! Eventually we ran away one by one, helping each one of us kids to get away to safety. We receive no help we had to help each other. What should of happen was the school should have called the social worker to come and get everyone of us to safety. Then go over to our house arrest him and assure my mother that he would not be let out of jail and then we could have had our day in court. The older sisters never finished school stayed hidden until they were 18. I in the middle ran away went to the police and told them I did not want to go home, I ended up in foster homes until I was 18. My younger brothers and sisters would run away change their names and found someone to make up school records so they could finish school. I don’t know how to make things better, but I do know kids need to go back to school, it’s worst now for them because their abusers are not working and are at home because of covid!
7-Sept-2020 – Making The Case – s.s. repentance
2020-09-07 11:54:57
[…] New York Times Magazine argues successful online-predator stings are cruel because there are ‘no victims’ – Fox News video report from “The Ingraham Angle” which explores an alternative take on the NY Times article. The O.U.R. founder, Tim Ballard, strikes back about how he believes the stings are okay. His OUR website also included a rebuttal. […]
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John
2020-09-17 06:53:40
First of all, I won’t purchase The NY Times or support any of their advertisers. Not for nothing people. Sting operations and PD task force sub departments, Drugs, Auto Theft, Sex Trafficking, etc. are very effective in the crime stopping business. These programs are very expensive because of all the time and tools involved. With all that is going on in the larger cities today, BLM, and all that nonsense, Don’t be surprised when the money to stop child abuse gets cut to nothing. So now what? Support OUR. Only thing I can do. Later
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Kevin Palmer
2020-09-17 12:17:30
I almost became a victim when I was 14 years old. While visiting Robinson, IL from Canada, on December 26 th, while walking back to my stepmother's from the video rental store a strange man pulled up to the side of the road as I was crossing at Cherry St., walking up North Jefferson St and he tried to lure me into his truck, but I knew better and ran away. If I hadn't have been so close to my step mother's house, I'm completely sure he'd have gotten me. His face haunted me for over 21 years until, after I had joined this organization back in April. On April 12th, while visiting my father in Iroquois Falls, Ontario, I was looking for videos of missing children found alive when I came across the Shawn Hornbeck kidnapping and rescue story. While watching a documentary on the case, they showed his kidnapper's mugshot and I was totally floored. It was the same man from the truck in 1998. His name is Michael Devlin. After finding old photos of online, I was 100% sure it was him. After being in a dazed shock for several days over it, I became confused on what to do. I sought legal aid and got in touch with a legal official in St. Louis to see what we could do. After learning that Devlin is already serving multiple life sentences for what he did to Shawn Hornbeck and another boy, I made the decision withdraw from the issue altogether as I was satisfied that that sick offender will never get out of jail and hurt another child. Then it came to my attention that child sex offenders all over the U.S. and Canada were using the coronavirus as an excuse for early parole and were being outrageously successful. After hearing rumours that Missouri would do the same and found out that Michael Devlin might be eligible for release, I decided to speak out again, only louder. I sent pleading emails to top officials in Missouri to not let him out. 2 weeks later, I got a reply from the director of the Department of Corrections for western Missouri and I was informed that Michael Devlin would not be allowed to use COVID-19 to get out of jail. I was elated and thanked them by all the gods that exist and then once again withdrew from the entire case. My brief, but terrifying encounter with that monster in 1998 that later got me into becoming a true crime buff, got me into helping rescue children from pedophile rings and later human trafficking, which has led me to this wonderful organization... this organization also helped me identify the monster who tried to make me a victim and helped me speak out and take steps so that at least one child predator stays locked up. It's been a real emotional rollercoaster since April but I've been pulling through and taking steps to put on Stranger Danger training exercises for children here in the North Bay Ontario area. Thank you O.U.R.
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Diana
2020-09-29 13:16:15
Thank you for your courage and openess. Where ever we are, we csn decide if we're going to be involved or look the other way. I am early 60s... i try at every turn to let other younger women both understand and be on guard for their own safety. I am trying to learn and become a greater advocate in dangers that surround women and children. While we csn love well, we must be smart about it. Again...you are an inspiration and courage filled gal!!
Kevin Palmer
2020-09-29 13:30:32
Thanks. I'm a guy actually. As a 14 year old boy at the time, I looked almost identical to Shawn Hornbeck, which greatly helps strengthen my case against Michael Devlin. I haven't pressed charges yet, though I intend to contact the Crawford County District Attorney to find out what my options are since there are no statutes of limitations on child sex crimes in the state of Illinois.
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A
2020-12-09 19:32:52
Can someone please explain why these so-called heroes are under investigation? Could it be that they've been caught lying and pushing this agenda strictly for money purposes? And why were they using the same law firm that defends real pedophiles that have molested children in the Mormon church? Why are these guys covering for the real pedophile predators, while they are falsely labeling so many non predators as child predators? https://gritdaily.com/operation-underground-railroad-tim-ballard/
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Louis John
2020-12-10 09:22:13
I don’t know who you are, Troll or what you're up to but: 1st O.U.R. is on the top of my list as far as charity organizations go. I have done my homework on a bunch of them. It’s simple. Bad guy, you get to go to jail. Kid. You come with me and I promise, you will get your childhood back. Mission Accomplished, Next? I’ve been telling people that for years. 2nd The NY Times has an agenda. Far left, I guess so. The thing ain’t good enough to wrap fish guts in? Where have I heard that before and how long ago? 50 /60 years ago? Lower Hudson Valley? 3rd Look Troll, you don’t have a clue as to how the legal profession works. Lawyers represent clients to the best of their ability. It’s up to a judge and jury to convict or not. If OUR wants that same law firm to represent them where is the problem? Also the Mormon Church does NOT have the market cornered when it comes to Child Abuse. The Roman Catholic, Muslim religion, most all the others. As far as “falsely labeling” goes, anyone that trolls the web or hangs where the kids hang is most likely up to no good anyway. Predators are in fact predators. Pedophile predators that pray on children are very very evil. 4th Instead of trolling the web and defending these animals, go out and find one and help law enforcement keep him or her in check.
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