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

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: A mom’s and pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19 vaccines for children

I want to see children and their parents who have yet to get vaccinated roll up their sleeves.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.