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Attorney Calls For Crusade Against 'Evil' Of Child Porn

Vachss doesn't buy defense arguments such as those used in Hesketh case

By Karen Florin
Originally published by The Day, April 11, 2008


Manhattan attorney Andrew Vachss, who has spent most of 40 years working with abused children, wants to raise the stakes for people who look at child pornography online.

He wants mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of possessing child porn.

He wants the government to negotiate treaties with foreign countries to shut down servers that host child-porn sites.

He wants child abuse to be part of the debate in this year's presidential race.

What Vachss does not want is to hear arguments like the one made by the attorney for former Pfizer executive Alan Hesketh, who is accused of trading hundreds of images of child porn on line. Hesketh's attorney said at a bond hearing that his client should be released from prison to get help for a "sexual disorder." The judge denied bond after hearing the British-born Hesketh owns properties throughout the world, valued in the millions of dollars.

Defense attorney Jonathan J. Einhorn of New Haven again referred to his client's psychiatric condition during a brief phone conversation last week.

"This is clearly an aberration in an otherwise exemplary life," he said. "We strongly believe it's a manifestation of an illness."

Pedophiles are not sick, Vachss said in a phone interview last week. They're evil.

"If it weren't for guys like him, why would child porn be produced?" Vachss said of Hesketh's alleged on-line activities. "He's financing the worst evil I can think of."

Vachss limits his legal practice to representing children, many of them victims of abuse. He writes a series of hard-edged crime novels, the Burke series, on the topic, culling the material from real-life cases. He helped found a national organization that lobbies on behalf of kids and has lectured audiences across the country on child sexual abuse.

He said that people who traffic in photographs that exploit children should not be treated as mentally ill.

"What they are," he said, "is repulsive perverts. Degenerates."


Federal agents arrested Hesketh, 61, of Stonington, on March 26 after confirming he traded hundreds of images of children engaged in sexual acts while chatting online with a man from Buffalo, N.Y. He was fired two days later from his job as Pfizer Inc.'s global patent director. He is being held at a Rhode Island detention center.

If the case proceeds as others have, Hesketh could plead guilty long before a jury would have heard the sordid details of his alleged crimes. A motion filed April 4 indicated Hesketh's attorney and the U.S. Attorney's office are attempting to resolve the case by plea agreement. A probable cause hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday did not go forward.

Hesketh is charged with possessing, receiving and distributing child pornography. There is no mandatory minimum sentence for possession of child pornography in federal court, and Vachss cannot stand the thought that the longtime pharmaceutical executive could be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

"He pleads (guilty) to simple possession and gets the best treatment possible," Vachss predicted. He rattled off the names of a couple of high-end treatment facilities for pedophiles.

Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said he could not comment specifically on Hesketh's case. He did point to several recent child-porn cases in U.S. District Court that ended in prison time. He said most of those who are convicted go either to Devens, a federal prison in Ayer, Mass., or Butner, a facility in North Carolina. Both have medical hospitals with sex-offender programs.

Federal agents said Hesketh and Gregory Nadolski of Buffalo exchanged 85 pictures during a chat session about, among other things, the sexual molestation of children. They said that during the conversation, Hesketh sent Nadolski a picture of an adult male raping an infant girl.

The picture is a crime scene, Vachss said.

"What they're doing is getting the baby raped," he said of people who would trade such a photo. Vachss said in so-called child pornography the participants are children, not actors, and they are not capable of consenting.


Hesketh is an organic scientist who has been married for 39 years. He has four children and five grandchildren. He told agents he has posed as "Suzibibaby," a 28-year-old New York City woman, for the past five years, chatting online and viewing and trading images at home, on business trips and at work. He admitted trading child porn for years using several online identities.

Hesketh worked out of Pfizer's New London office. He said when he traveled he carried more than 1,000 images of child pornography on three compact flash drives.

Pfizer spokeswoman Liz Power said the company does not allow employees to use computer resources or systems that contain or promote abusive or objectionable language or information that is illegal or obscene. She said a number of technical controls block objectionable Web sites, prevent peer-to-peer file sharing and remove unapproved software. Systems are scanned several times a year for unapproved packages, she said.

Power did not comment specifically about Hesketh's case.

Hesketh's wife, Janet, told authorities she and her husband had been having marital difficulties and were on the verge of divorce. She said last week in court that he was the only one who could sort out the couple's finances. Three days later, Judge Donna F. Martinez granted Hesketh permission to meet with his wife at the U.S. Marshal's office in Hartford "for the purpose of reviewing the family's financial matters so that she may become familiar with household expenses and income while he is incarcerated."

Hesketh had worked for nine years as an executive at Glaxo Wellcome pharmaceuticals in England before Pfizer hired him six years ago. He paid $834,000 for a 3,371-square-foot colonial at 202 Montauk Ave. in Stonington in 2003. He also owns homes in New York, England and the Isle of Man.

The judge denied Hesketh bond because she said he had the resources and overseas connections to flee the country. Nadolski, the Buffalo man whose arrest led agents to Hesketh, was released to home confinement after signing a promise to appear in court. He is a deli worker, according to news accounts.


Consumers of child pornography are a diverse group, according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Some are sexually interested in prepubescent children or adolescents and use child pornography for sexual fantasy and gratification. Some are sexually "indiscriminate," others are sexually "curious."

Federal agents said Hesketh spoke almost as if he were "Suzibibaby," his on-line persona, following his arrest. The profile for Suzibibaby, located in an erotic chat room "for women only" called Nifty Girls, depicts a blonde woman sitting on a bed who likes to chat, "especially about erotic subjects."

Child pornography does two things, according to Vachss. It validates the offenders, who take comfort knowing there are millions of people like them, and it desensitizes children. Producers of child porn groom their subjects by showing them pictures of other children engaged in sexual acts. If other kids are doing it, it must be OK.

Connecticut toughened its child-pornography laws last year to include mandatory minimum prison sentences. When cases have come up in New London Superior Court, defendants have been sentenced to prison time.

"Our position has been that people have to go to jail for this," said prosecutor John P. Gravalec-Pannone. "This is not a victimless crime."

Former Navy sailor Travis A. Pirtle, who said he was "caught up in a fantasy world" when he viewed child pornography, is serving a 30-month sentence for criminal attempt to entice a minor and third-degree possession of child pornography. His attorney had argued for a shorter sentence, saying Pirtle had undergone hypnotherapy and engaged in counseling in Bible studies to "purge" the child-porn images from his mind.

Judge Susan B. Handy didn't buy it.

"You have been exploiting children for your own gratification, and that is, in the court's mind, a despicable pastime," she said at his sentencing last year.

None of the child victims in the New London cases have been local, though many have been identified as "known victims" by the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children. New London Police Capt. William D. Dittman said a New London detective is in training to analyze computers so the department will not have to rely as much on the overburdened state laboratory, which can take many months to test seized computers.


Much of the child porn that is circulating online could carry a "Made in the U.S.A." label.

"This is a domestic cottage industry," said Grier Weeks, executive director of PROTECT, a national group that lobbies to protect children from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

"These movies are being created by people largely in this country and are being sold, but also traded. Most of the perpetrators are adults that know the children. These are family members and adults in the kids' circle of trust."

"These movies are being created by people largely in this country and are being sold, but also traded. Most of the perpetrators are adults that know the children. These are family members and adults in the kids' circle of trust."

"It's out of control," he said.

PROTECT is lobbying for passage of a bill that would authorize $1 billion over the next eight years for federal law enforcement "to get serious about this issue."

© Copyright 2008 The Day Publishing Co.



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