The Federal Prison Bureau has a new study indicating that 85% of convicted consumers of child pornography may have sexually molested a child. However the New York Times reports that the federal agency has suppressed the publication of the report out of concern that the public will misinterpret its conclusions.
The Times reports that the unpublished research was conducted by psychologists at the Federal Bureau of Prisons and that it constitutes the first in-depth survey done by prison therapists of online sexual offenders' history - everything from indecent touching to rape. The therapists were actively performing treatment.
The report was to be published in the Journal of Family Violence until Judy Garrett, an official with the Prison Bureau, requested in April that it be withdrawn saying the report did not meet "agency approval."
"We believe it unwise to generalize from limited observations gained in treatment or in records review to the broader population of persons who engage in such behavior," states a letter from a bureau official obtained by the Times.
A draft of the paper obtained by the Times show the study was conducted by two psychologists, Andres E. Hernandez and Michael L. Bourke, and surveyed 155 male inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina. All these prisoners were serving sentences for either possession or distribution of child pornography.
The psychologists then made a shocking discovery. More than 85 percent of these men admitted to sexually molesting at least one child, far exceeding the 26 percent known to have committed these offenses at the time of sentencing. In the end, the 75 known sexual crimes perpetrated against children became 1,777: a more than 20-fold increase from the time of sentencing.
One anonymous Canadian prisoner serving a 14 year sentence explained to the Times how viewing child pornography would lead him to sexually molest children:
"Because there is no way I can look at a picture of a child on a video screen and not get turned on by that and want to do something about it," he said. "I knew that in my mind. I knew that in my heart. I didn't want it to happen, but it was going to happen."