California Man Goes on Trial For Molestations of Niece
A 53-year-old man in Santa Barbara is accused of 17 counts of child abuse, including molestation and other sex crimes. The so-called 'punishments' were all video taped
CNN, February 5, 1993; News Transcript # 197-1
PATRICK GREENLAW, Anchor:
A California man is on trial for allegedly torturing and molesting his niece from age 12 to 17. He claims it was discipline; prosecutors, however, see it very differently. Jane Rinka of CNN affiliate KEYT has the story. We caution you that some viewers may find parts of this report offensive.
JANE RINKA, Correspondent, KEYT-TV: It was John Shipman's turn to tell his story. Shipman is accused of 15 counts of sexual abuse against his now 17 year-old niece. The charges include 11 counts of lewd and lascivious acts. The case goes back to 1988, when the teen went to live with her uncle and aunt in Oraca. Shipman set up rules and told his niece if she violated them, she would be punished. And she was. As these tapes show, she was dressed during early paddling. But that changed. Eventually, the girl was ordered to take her clothes off.
JOHN SHIPMAN, Defendant: I felt I wasn't making an impression. Restriction didn't work, paddling didn't work, so I thought perhaps a little embarrassement along with a little pain would work. It seemed to for awhile.
RINKA: The whippings would go on for three years, the punishment became more severe.
Mr. SHIPMAN: Because she was, in my mind, she was becoming progressively more resistant to becoming [unintelligible].
RINKA: Shipman paints his niece out to be a chronic liar, who ditched school and failed at personal hygiene. He says the punishments he inflicted on her were similar to what he knew as a child.
Mr. SHIPMAN: I'd always promised myself and promised my wife that with any of our children, I'd try to remain calm, cool and collected. Obviously, by what I've seen, I didn't accomplish that.
RINKA: Then Shipman began to shave his niece's hair in the genital area. He said he did it to make her feel like a five-year-old because that's how she was acting. He also began videotaping the sessions.
Mr. SHIPMAN: I was hoping that perhaps in the interim if she had to view this, she would just, you know, simply say, 'I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I screwed up.'
RINKA: John Shipman was arrested in July, after the videotapes got into the hands of the Santa Barbara sheriff's department. The prosecutors are banking on the tapes to help convict the 53-year-old. For CNN, I'm Jane Rinka, Santa Barbara, California.
California Man Guilty of Torturing Niece for 3 Years
Associated Press, Palm Beach Post (Florida), February 6, 1993
DATELINE: SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.
A man was convicted Friday of stripping, beating and shaving his teenage niece over a three-year period in "discipline" sessions he videotaped in a basement "war room."
After 5½ hours of deliberations, jurors found John Shipman guilty of four counts of lewd contact with a child under age 14 and 11 counts of rape with a foreign object. The abuse began when the girl was 13.
Shipman, 53, could be sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Sentencing is April 1.
Deputy Public Defender Tom Allen didn't deny that the girl was abused but claimed there was no sexual intent. He had argued his client should be convicted on reduced charges of child abuse and inhumane treatment.
The jury was shown 37 minutes of graphic videotape of what Shipman called disciplinary sessions in the "war room"-- a concrete-lined basement with soundproofing at his home 140 miles north of Los Angeles.
The teen is now living with her mother in San Bernardino County. The mother sent the girl to live with Shipman and his wife in late 1989 after she ran away.
The girl's mother and stepfather discovered the videotapes in Shipman's X-rated video collection but said nothing for several months because the girl said the abuse had happened only once.
Porn fighters break ring of kid-spanking fetishists
By Naftali Bendavid, Washington Bureau
Chicago Tribune, March 13, 2002
Investigators are in the final stages of breaking up a ring of child-pornography enthusiasts in the United States and Canada who derived sexual pleasure from the severe spanking of children. Nine people already have pleaded guilty, including one in west suburban Chicago.
Members of the loose-knit group, which investigators have nicknamed "the Spanking Club," harshly beat children—often their own—with paddles, canes or other devices, and then exchanged videos of those spankings through the mail, officials said. The videos also featured close-ups of genitalia and other pornographic elements.
Those who investigate crimes against children say they cannot remember another such case, featuring an organized group focused on the pornography of spanking children. In all, authorities have removed 12 children ranging in age from 4 to 14 from their parents or guardians.
"What we're talking about, it was not just a little paddling with the hand on a kid's backside," said Raymond Smith, a senior U.S. postal inspector who worked on the case. "They're using paddles, whips, canes and severely brutalizing these very young children, sometimes as young as 4 years old."
Some of the defendants have yet to be sentenced, and other arrests may be made. But whatever the final numbers, the case illustrates a phenomenon becoming increasingly known among law enforcement: that the Internet has made it much easier for child pornographers to find each other and create and exchange material in violation of the law.
Five years ago, the FBI created an initiative called Innocent Images, sending agents undercover to stop on-line child pornographers by, for example, entering chat rooms in the persona of girls. These agents opened 113 cases in 1996. That jumped to 1,541 last year.
In the spanking case, the pornographers sent videos through the mail because it is difficult to transmit a 90-minute video online. But they often communicated with each other on the Internet, authorities said.
Veteran investigators said that even by the disturbing standards of child pornography, the activities of the Spanking Club were chilling. The films did not involve ordinary spanking, but rather beatings, and they included a clearly sexual element.
"Any time children are brutally beaten, it's the most outrageous type of conduct that we have to deal with," said Michael Heimbach, chief of the FBI's Crimes Against Children Unit. "It wrenches your heart. All the children's issues do, but when you see children being beaten on videos and their genitalia are being filmed, it's very, very disturbing."
Canada provided 1st break
Investigators' first break occurred in May 2000, when Canadian authorities intercepted a video mailed to an assistant school principal, David Wadsworth, and arrested him. He was carrying a phone bill that led investigators to David Patterson, a computer programmer in Dalton, Ga., who appeared to have been at the center of the ring.
A tape from Wadsworth's house showed Patterson "administering repeated spankings to four naked children, who cried out in pain during the prolonged beatings," said a prosecutor. Two of the children were Patterson's children, another was the child of a former wife, and the fourth was a family acquaintance, investigators said.
Patterson pleaded guilty and was sentenced last November to 10 years in prison. His ex-wife, Shirley Blaney, received 2 years.
More important from the investigators' perspective, Patterson agreed to cooperate, leading agents and inspectors to others involved in the group. Some of them beat children and made videos, while others simply trafficked in them.
There was Jim Nain, a railroad employee in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., in whose house agents found hairbrushes, a rattan cane and other items.
Teacher, nurse caught
There was Gordon Murray, an elementary school teacher in Brewton, Ala., who met Patterson through an ad in Domestic Discipline Digest.
There was Richard Roll, a male nurse and former scoutmaster from Jamestown, N.Y., who called his pornographic films "Rick Roll Videos."
And there was George Kelly of Lombard, Ill., who pleaded guilty last month to possession and distribution of child pornography. Kelly, 63, had been a volunteer Sunday school teacher at Christ the King Catholic Church in Lombard.
Kelly was creating spanking videos, investigators said, but they involved mannequins rather than children. During the search of his house, Kelly admitted to agents that he had manufactured and distributed simulated child pornography in exchange for "the real thing."
Kelly's sentencing is scheduled for April 19, and he faces a potential term of 70 to 87 months in prison.
Officials say they had to take down the organization quickly, rather than drawing out the investigation, because children were being abused. They do not believe there will be many other such cases, they said, because the group revolved around a relatively rare fetish.
Still, such people have a drive to get in touch with one another, and the Internet provides an easy way to do so, according to Smith, who heads the child exploitation unit at the Postal Inspection Service.
"They have a real innate need to communicate with others because deep down inside, they know what they're doing is wrong," Smith said. "But by communicating with each other and sharing experiences, it's a psychological support thing. It's a validation system. It makes them say, 'See, I'm not so weird. There's a lot of other people out there that like the same thing as I do.'"
Dallas Morning News
March 19, 2002, Tuesday
FBI announces arrests in Internet child porn investigation
By Michelle Mittelstadt
WASHINGTON — Clergy members, Little League coaches and a teacher's aide are among the 89 people charged with participating in an Internet site where hard-core child pornography was traded, federal authorities said Monday.
Forty arrests in 20 states had been made as of Monday, among them that of an East Texas man alleged to have set up the "Candyman" site visited by more than 7,000 people until its shutdown last year during an investigation initiated by the Houston FBI office. Fifty more arrests will occur this week and the investigation is ongoing, said Bruce Gebhardt, an FBI executive assistant director.
"It is clear that a new marketplace for child pornography has emerged in the dark corners of cyberspace," Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news conference at FBI headquarters. However, he added, the arrests prove "there will be no free rides on the Internet for traffickers of child pornography."
The man alleged to have set up the "Candyman" e-group in December 2000 — Mark Bates, a 32-year-old from Palestine, Texas — made an initial appearance Monday in federal court in Tyler, Texas, federal authorities said. He is among eight people charged in a 10-count federal indictment unsealed Monday in Houston.
Bates was arrested without incident Monday by Dallas FBI agents, said spokeswoman Lori Bailey.
Also indicted were seven Texans alleged to have subscribed to the site: Walter Eugene Fitzpatrick, 61, of Liverpool; Robert Froman, 49, of Pasadena; Stephen Michael Johnston, 21, of College Station; Hector Ezeta, 38, of Houston; Jayson Anderson, 28, of Baytown; Billy Loyd White, 45, of Channelview; and Christopher James Tinney, 20, of Katy.
All eight in the Houston indictment were charged with a single count of conspiracy to knowingly transport, receive and distribute child porn via computer, which carries a maximum 15 years' imprisonment and $250,000 fine. Bates alone was charged with a single count of knowingly transporting child porn via computer, while the seven others were each charged with one count of receiving child porn by computer — all of which carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. And the seven were also each charged with a single count of possession of materials containing images of child pornography, which carries a maximum five-year sentence and $250,000 fine.
The Houston indictment alleges that Candyman subscribers were polled on questions such as whether they wanted to see more pornographic images of boys or girls; the age at which they first began abusing children; and the number of children they'd molested.
Twenty-seven of those arrested to date have admitted molesting more than 36 children, the FBI said.
Operation Candyman was initiated 14 months ago, after an FBI agent in Houston identified three e-groups involved in posting and exchanging child pornography, the FBI said. The investigation then was broadened to the 55 other FBI field offices around the nation.
FBI officials in Washington declined to provide particulars of the arrests, though they said two Catholic priests as well as several law enforcement personnel were among those charged.
Investigators examined the 7,000 Candyman subscribers, which included some 2,400 people living outside the United States, and prioritized which ones to investigate further based upon the frequency with which they downloaded pornographic images as well as their professions, Gebhardt said.