Warning: This article contains content that some readers may find disturbing.
A new documentary produced by the Child Protection League sheds light on Minnesota’s “child sexual abuse imagery crisis.”
Minnesota is among the most lenient states when it comes to punishing those who traffic in child pornography. Predators are given probation nearly 90 percent of the time, with minimal to no prison time, according to the Child Protection League.
Prosecutors can make the problem worse by electing to charge predators with possession instead of dissemination. They can usually charge either, but possession carries a lower sentence.
“Minnesota has effectively decriminalized the crimes of possessing, disseminating and producing pictures and videos of child sexual abuse imagery,” the Child Protection League said in announcing its new film.
Just what exactly do these crimes entail? According to the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, these are videos and “images [which] frequently depict children, toddlers, and infants being sexually assaulted, physically abused, tortured and humiliated.”
With gripping testimonies from law enforcement officers and victims, the new film “SHATTERED” breaks the silence on Minnesota’s feeble sentencing guidelines for predators convicted of crimes involving child sexual abuse imagery.
The documentary asks: is Minnesota becoming a “catch and release” state for predators?
“Over the last five years, legislation to raise the penalties has been introduced but has been met with indifference and inaction by our legislators,” said Child Protection League Action President Michele Lentz.
“Things will not change unless the Minnesota public rises up and demands it. ‘SHATTERED’ is truly a wake up call that Minnesota has made itself a sanctuary state for child predators. CPLA will not be silent and we are certain once people understand the magnitude of the problem and how easily it can be resolved, they will not be silent either,” she added.
Lentz said the solution to this massive problem is to pass the Protect Minnesota Kids Act (PMKA). This bill would adopt the tougher federal criminal mandatory minimums for the crimes of possessing, disseminating and producing child pornography.
It adds a new crime of “receipt” as well. PMKA will increase the penalty for possession of child sexual abuse imagery when the victim is under the age of 13 and would require persons subject to stays of adjudication (probation) in criminal sexual conduct cases to register as predatory offenders.
“Minnesotans will not stand for this any more,” Rep. Matt Grossell says in the film. “We will not allow our children to be victimized continuously.”
The new documentary premiered in front of a live audience Friday night and will premiere on Alpha News Monday night at 6 p.m. The film is not intended for children and viewer discretion is advised.
“We’re coming, parents are coming and the great citizens of Minnesota are coming to demand these laws be changed,” said Lentz. “Because silence will not be an option. Our legislators and our governor will not be able to ignore all of us. It’s up to us to protect the defenseless.”