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Author John Grisham says sentences for watching child porn are too harsh

He said that men sometimes stumble onto websites featuring child pornography after ‘pushing the wrong buttons’ while drunk.

John Grisham
John Grisham
Image: AP/Press Association Images

AUTHOR JOHN GRISHAM has said that prison sentences for people who look at child porn are too harsh.

Grisham (59) made the comments in an interview with the Telegraph.

The novellist said that America is jailing too many people for watching child abuse online.

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child.

But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons and went too far and got into child porn.

“These are people who haven’t hurt anybody. They deserve some type of punishment, whatever, but 10 years in prison?”

Grisham said that an old lawyer friend of his was jailed in Canada for three years after viewing pornographic images of underage girls while drunk.

It was 16-year-old girls who looked 30 … He shouldn’t have done it – it was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.

He added that he had “no sympathy” for “real peadophiles”, who deserve to be locked up.

Grisham is best known for penning legal thrillers The Pelican Brief, The Firm and A Time to Kill.

‘Pathway’ to real abuse

One in Four, which supports survivors of sexual abuse in Ireland, criticised the comments.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis said that Grisham’s assertion that “innocent middle-aged men stumble across such websites while under the influence of alcohol is not borne out by the international experience”.

“Across the world, most convictions for downloading images of child sexual abuse relate to people who have stored hundreds of these vile videos and photos on their computer and many of whom have shared such images with other sex offenders.

It is an added burden for the child victims that these images will be available on the web for all eternity and may continue to be circulated long after the child has grown up.

Lewis said that downloading images of sexual sex abuse can also be “a pathway for
the viewer to sexually abuse children in their own social network”.

She added that One in Four has seen “a marked increase” in the  number of young sex offenders aged 18 – 25 attending their treatment programme.

Read: Young sexual offenders move from downloading images to sexually harming children

Read: 7th Heaven dad Stephen Collins accused of child molestation

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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