Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) October 3, 2007
A quick search of internet giant eBay.com this week shows several auctions that, in the opinion of a national advocacy group, are appealing to a pedophile market. BizParentz Foundation, a Los Angeles based advocacy group for child actors is calling on eBay to halt to the practice of selling questionable photos of young children.
This week there are several shocking photos for sale, and they are going for high prices. For example, a photo of a child identified as Beryle (verify this fact with by searching eBay item number 170154177132) is selling for more than $250. The bidding will continue for the next week, so the price will likely escalate.
The seller of this photo lives in "Hottie Heaven, USA", according to his seller profile published on eBay. The seller describes these photos as "celebrity collectibles" in the auction description, although many of the children, like "Beryle", are not famous or even recognizable to the general public. Most are young boys. Their full identities are unknown.
The photos are sold in private auctions, meaning that the buyer's identity is protected. Other auctions conducted that allow private bidders on eBay are porn items and other items where the buyer doesn't want people to know what they purchased.
BizParentz acknowledges that the photos do not fit the legal definition of child pornography. But according to definitions and guidelines listed on the BizParentz.com site, along with most other child safety groups, they are classified as "child erotica," designed to appeal to a pedophile marketplace. They sell for large amount of money because they are "collectibles" for a pedophilia collection (true celebrity photos, say Brad Pitt, sell for $7.99 every week on eBay). The price directly corresponds to the child's state of undress.
EBay is a private business, and as such, they can make their own standards for what can and cannot be sold on their site. According to eBay's own site: "... many restrictions may involve the sale of dangerous or sensitive items and are not necessarily prohibited by law." EBay also states, "eBay prohibits the sale of items or links to items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity." Thousands of items are banned from eBay sales simply for being offensive or for being pre-criminal, including breast milk, Nazi memorabilia, lock picking devices, teacher's edition textbooks, etc.
Recent news reports of self professed pedophiles like Jack McClellan have brought the picture collecting habit to light. Experts in child molestation cases say that it is not uncommon to find collections of 10,000 photos or more in the seized computers of sex offenders. These photos are sometimes classified as legal pornography and charges are brought, but more often, the photos look like these -- sexual, suggestive, or even nude, but not fitting the legal definition of child pornography. A report by Candice Kim published in the National District Attorney's Association Child Sexual Exploitation Update states that there is a direct statistical connection between the possession of child erotica and the crime of child molestation, "A pedophile's pornography and erotica collection is the single best indicator of what he wants to do."
It is the opinion of BizParentz Foundation that it is probable that pedophiles like Jack McClellan are taking their hobby one step further and will sell the photos on sites like eBay if policies are not changed. The organization is calling on Ebay to make the voluntary determination that these pictures will not be sold on their site.
BizParentz has been discussing the issue with eBay for over a year. In 2005, the organization discovered that several eBay sellers were in the business of selling questionable photos of young actors, past and present. One of those sellers, at the time known as "TVteens" had a 20 year history of child porn charges, and is currently in prison for child molestation and pornography. Another seller, "Teenstars" was very active until he was identified as a manager/publicist of young boy actors in Los Angeles. That seller has since passed away of an unidentified illness, but his "collection" has been passed on to another eBay seller. "Ebay is aware of that history," according to BizParentz co-founder Anne Henry. "They did close the accounts of those sellers, although Ebay told us that the action was not related to the content of their auctions."
Currently there are five or six main sellers of erotic child photos on eBay, according to BizParentz, which has been collecting data on auctions for two years. According to BizParentz co-founder Paula Dorn, "It is unconscionable that eBay continues to allow this practice. There is no reason they cannot simply change their policy to ban these photos. I have discussed the issue with eBay legal representatives at length and I believe they understand the issue. They are simply refusing to act on it. There is no reason for a seller to make thousands of dollars each month on the sale of photos, selected and marketed solely to pedophiles. There is no reason for eBay to facilitate this kind of child exploitation. It's baffling."