Arizona radio station under fire for advice on how to hide child porn
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is investigating KAVV radio, also known as The Cave, over an announcement which has aired late at night and in the early morning hours with advice on how to hide child pornography.
The announcement was authored by station manager Paul Lotsof, who says he is exercising free speech to protest Arizona’s draconian laws.
“Please take notice that the PSA in question does not condone child pornography in any way,” Lotsof told KPHO/KTVK-TV. “It merely points out that the penalties for possession of child pornography are draconian, to the extent that the real victims are the people serving these incredibly long sentences.”
The information in the announcement “is perfectly accurate and important,” he added. It has, however, been taken off the air.
The PSA told KAVV listeners to “hide your child pornography from your computer by keeping all content on an external hard drive and hide it where no one can find it,” Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, told the Arizona Republic.
The advice included, among other things: “never keep paper pictures, tapes or films of naked juveniles where anyone else can find them,” according to the text of the PSA that Lotsof provided to local media.
“It's very disturbing to have that type of message go out from a media organization that in essence is providing instruction on how to break a law, specifically something as heinous as any type of child porn,” Capas said. “You shouldn’t have someone advising you, ‘If you’re gonna do this, this is how to get away with it.’”
About 100 people contacted the Federal Communications Commission about the PSA before the sheriff’s office found out about it from the media, Capas told the Arizona Republic. The sheriff, the county attorney’s office, and the FCC are currently investigating whether the PSA broke Arizona law.
“Freedom of speech does not include telling people to commit crimes and continuing to pass on this information could lead to judicial action being taken,” the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Lotsof argued that the probe would “infringe on the precious freedom of speech, which includes the right to advocate against the enforcement of laws that are excessively severe.” He pointed out that Arizona laws mandate a 10-year prison sentence for each sexually suggestive photo of a minor, to be served consecutively.
“They’re pictures of minors and you go to prison for the rest of your life for possessing them,” Lotsof told KVOA. “There’s no picture in the world that’s that dangerous.”
In 2003, a high school teacher was sentenced to 200 years in prison after he was caught with a cache of child pornography on his computer.
“It’s so sickening to hear people say, ‘A picture isn't a crime,’” Capas said. There is no such thing as “just viewing child porn,” she said, adding that watching it could lead to crimes like molestation or kidnapping.
“It is a crime. Those children are victims of a crime,” she said.
Benson is a city of 5,000 southeast of Tucson, near the Mexican border. KAVV has a policy of airing public-service announcements once per hour, as part of the station’s commitment to “community involvement.”
Some in the community are now calling for the station to be shut down over Lotsof’s advocacy, however, with a Change.org petition accumulating over 800 signatures by Wednesday morning.