Politics Rights and Wrongs
A 24-year-old computer repair technician at Quidâ€¢nunc—the bustling computer store on California Ave. SW at Alaska Junction—is used to seeing porn pop up on people’s computers. “Everything from beaver shots to weirder stuff like Japanese animation featuring tentacles and slime,” he says. But the file he saw last month freaked him out. It was titled “5-year-old Girl” and it was a picture of a grown man having sex with a little girl. There were several other j-peg files with similar titles, he says.
It’s against the law not to report child porn, so he called the police. (An account of the police report appeared in Charles Mudede’s Police Beat column last week.)
In the report Officer Askew states: “I arrived and met with the complainant. He showed me the file of several children engaged in sexual acts. I seized the computer. Once at the SW precinct I opened the files once more to examine its contents. I saw numerous pictures of children engaged in sexual acts with other children and adults. Some of the children appeared to be as young as seven years old.”
I have since interviewed the folks at Quidâ€¢nunc, and they told me the suspect called the store to check in on his computer. They told him he had to talk to the police about the computer. He asked why, and they gave him a case number and told him simply he had to call the SPD. They say he seemed “nonchalant” about it. He even came in later to pick up a CD.
Are the SPD onto a major child porn bust? (The police believe the name the suspect gave to the computer store may be an alias.) Is this an isolated case? Or perhaps the man doesn’t know how the shocking j-pegs got on his computer.
Last week, in response to Mudede’s Police Beat item, Qudâ€¢nunc received the following anonymous letter:
“Although I do believe child pornography is wrong, sick, disgusting, etc; I believe it is equally wrong what your employees did…I do not want to be concerned about some misguided do-gooder taking my private information and reporting it to ‘big brother’. This is just one more example of the decay in civil rights in this country and you have chose to contribute to it. I will not let this happen. I will no longer patronize your business…Just two days ago I referred a friend to your business to have his computer upgraded. I immediately called him and strongly advised him to go elsewhere. When I explained why, he agreed. We need to begin organizing boycotts against individuals who threaten our personal freedoms.”
Quidâ€¢nunc owner Bill Hibler says: “We were not casually snooping. The customer asked us specifically to solve a problem he had opening certain image files. The files we found were not images attached to spam emails or downloaded through casual surfing. They were full-resolution JPEG files with descriptive file names—the kind that someone likely received as a result of payment or exchange.
After checking with the Seattle Police Department, we learned that it is a felony for us to find this kind of thing and not report it. Finally, I would love to be on record stating my belief that no one has the ‘personal freedom’ to support the sexual exploitation of a child.”
According to the folks at Quidâ€¢nunc, the suspect actually called the store again and asked if the store had fixed his computer before turning it over to the police. No, they had not.
According to the Quidâ€¢nunc employee who took the call, the suspect said: “Figures,” and hung up abruptly.