What others say: No gray area for child predators

  • By Juneau Empire editorial
  • Sunday, January 18, 2015 11:03am
  • Opinion

A former Petersburg School District employee was recently sentenced to 12 years in federal prison after authorities discovered he possessed 2,000 images and 39 videos depicting child pornography. Authorities also identified 27 children who Peterson photographed through a hole in a wall “leading to a gym used by visiting school sports teams in various stages of undress.”

Some of these images were used as online currency for trade with other pedophiles. The images of these youths will exist online forever. Some of the victims and their families will never know — not every youth could be identified.

It would be facile to say that Tye Leif Petersen never raped or physically harmed the children, so the case isn’t that bad. That’s what Petersen’s public defender wrote to U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess when asking for leniency.

“He has never harmed a child; never touched a child; never taken any step beyond viewing images through computer or camera lens,” stated a memo from Assistant Federal Public Defender Cara McNamara. “This is an important distinction when considering an appropriate sentence.”

A child predator is a child predator. Period.

Petersen began collecting child pornography in 2007 and took pictures of local students without their knowledge as recently as a day before his October 2013 arrest. By trading images with other pedophiles, Petersen was providing a market for the sort of people who kidnap, drug, rape and exploit youths for profit. He was part of the demand for what they supply. The youths in the locker room were not the only people harmed by Petersen’s actions. Children are kidnapped, hurt or otherwise injured around the world daily because of the appetite for child pornography. By dealing in pornography, Petersen was contributing to the danger faced by children around the world. Though he never left Petersburg, Petersen was contributing to problems in St. Petersburg as much as if he was there himself.

We appreciate the right to a fair trial, and for individuals like Petersen to have legal representation, but for an attorney to make light of such heinous behavior denies a serious issue. We’re shocked, frankly, that McNamara believed there was no direct harm by Petersen’s actions. If that philosophy were followed, our courts would show leniency to drug dealers who don’t physically insert syringes or forcefeed OxyContin to buyers.

Not that we need to remind anyone, but Alaska has a serious problem with sexual assault. More than 9 percent of Alaska youths experience some form of sexual violence, according to the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Those who enable the sexual exploitation of youths shouldn’t be separated from those committing the acts. In both scenarios, you have helpless victims who will spend years, if not decades, coming to terms with what happened to them.

We’re glad Judge Burgess saw through the smoke and mirrors and imposed the sentence he did. Those who prey on others, whether children or adults, should receive the harshest sentence available by law. There are no shades of gray here. We have a pedophile and his victims, it’s as simple as that. We see no “distinction” deserving leniency, and our society shouldn’t either.

— Juneau Empire,

Jan. 15

More in Opinion

This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Opinion: The Respect for Marriage Act represents a balanced approach

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported a “fairness for all” approach

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”