Justin Berry: From ‘camwhore’ to water-baptized witness for the State

Justin Berry: From ‘camwhore’ to water-baptized witness for the State

Today I felt my heart lifted even as my gut was wrenched. Kurt Eichenwald, writing for The New York Times, ditched a traditional rule of journalism by becoming a compassionate part of the story. And The NYT pulled out all the stops, backing him every step of the way. Three cheers for Eichenwald and the NY Times!

Update 12/30/05: Kurt Eichenwald updates us on the aftermath his series of articles have at least temporarily wrought in the online pedophiliac camworld. From the article: “The shutdown of the portals, all of which have been in operation for at least four years, came days after an article in The New York Times described how minors, often with the assistance of their online fans, had begun operating pay pornography sites featuring their own images sent onto the Internet by Webcams.” Child Pornography Sites Face New Obstacles (New York Times, December 30, 2005)

•     •     •

The Story:
Researching background material on a fraud case, Kurt Eichenwald found references to Justin Berry, a teen porn star operating his own online business. The story tweaked Eichenwald’s fraud antennae, and in the following days and weeks, he uncovered a story that would only serve to sicken and depress me, were it not for the footnote of redemption and Eichenwald’s intervention.

Kurt Eichenwald covers business and has written extensively about business and corporate corruption—including Conspiracy of Fools (Aaron), and The Informant. He has written for the NYT since 1988, has won the George Polk Award for Excellence in Journalism twice, and was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

What unfolds from Eichenwald’s story is a gut-twisting tale of naivete and seduction, it’s a visceral illustration of how the unwitting use of a powerful tool has profound, life-shattering effects (see my paper: “Integrity on the Internet”).

Young Berry, encouraged by the flimsy anonymity of a screen name and a webcam, believed he found genuine paternal friendship in the drooling, pederastic grins of predators. Step-by-step, by degrees of compromise, he slipped into a pit of evil. (A theme repeated everywhere by men and women snared by the lure of anonymous sexual exploration online.) Berry ultimately set up a series of webcam-based child-porn businesses, calling himself a “camwhore,” because he would do just about anything in front of a web-camera for the winning bidder.

Fast forward six years: Nineteen-year-old Berry finally wanted out. Having learned to fear the predators he performed for and took cash from—he finally hated what he had become. But not only had his lifestyle trapped him, he was bound by cocaine and marijuana addiction. When Eichenwald first contacted him as a journalist, Berry suspected he was actually FBI, and ignored him. Later, Eichenwald approached Berry as an anonymous fan, without the “journalist” hat on. When Eichenwald suggested meeting face-to-face at an LA airport within weeks, Berry was suspicious again. Yet he decided it didn’t matter anymore. Deep inside, he wanted release:

“[P]art of him hoped he would be arrested, putting an end to the life he was leading.”

In LA, Eichenwald immediately identified himself as a reporter–and Berry didn’t run. They continued talking. Over the next few days, Eichenwald encouraged Berry to shut his website down, to stop answering his cell phone, to stop answering instant messages, and to end the drug use. Amazingly, Berry not only agreed—he complied. With the Times’ consent, Eichenwald brought Berry to Washington, set him up in a new residence, provided medical and psychological care, and began documenting the case. Again, Eichenwald goes a step beyond: he convinced Berry to turn his transcripts and payment data over to the FBI and become a witness. More than 1,500 men are now under investigation.

I wish there was more coverage of this tantalizingly brief line near the end of the story:

“He has sought counseling, kept off drugs, resumed his connection with his church and plans to attend college beginning in January.”

While “resumed connection with his church” could mean nearly anything, I’m intrigued. What I see in this baptismal picture is a redeemed young man. Granted, a picture doesn’t reveal the state of a soul or the depth of commitment to Christ: but this picture could have been taken at any of a number of Pentecostal baptisms I’ve attended. This sure seems like more than the usual profession of faith through the rite of baptism: this photo captures a moment of worship.

After the grueling, seamy, reportage … this … this is what lifted my heart. Who knows whether Kurt Eichenwald is a man of religious conviction and practice? I don’t. But, regardless, he was as much God’s hands to Justin Berry as the most fervent Evangelical or Fundamentalist ever hoped to be. And he could not stand by while knowing the names of specific children still being victimized. He acted, and I believe lives will be saved. I’m grateful that in this story Eichenwald and the The Times adhered to conviction and compassion over journalistic rules.

As with my recent posts on youth pastor, Eric Brian Golden, I am concerned about some issues raised in this piece and in another, related item by Chris Hansen at NBC’s Dateline (links below). As noted above, more than 1,500 individuals (reportedly, all men) are being identified by the records Berry turned over. What seemed to surprise both Eichenwald and Berry were the type of men in his customer list.

In its investigation, The Times obtained the names and credit card information for the 1,500 people who paid Justin to perform on camera, and analyzed the backgrounds of 300 of them nationwide. A majority of the sample consisted of doctors and lawyers, businessmen and teachers, many of whom work with children on a daily basis. (Emphasis mine.

When NBC Dateline set up a 3–day sting operation in Washington, D.C., with vigilante group “Perverted-Justice,” they documented nearly two-dozen men who actually came to the sting-house to meet with a minor for sex. About them:

The men who show up at this house looking for a liaison with a child come from very different backgrounds. … A man letting himself into our house makes his living working with children—he’s a special education teacher. … A man with the screenname “Gbabbnsp” is an emergency room doctor. … What about another guy? … While the two are chatting online, we conduct a background check and are absolutely shocked by what this man does for a living. That’s right— [he’s] a rabbi, the man who sent several pornographic pictures of himself is a man of God. He’s been a staff member of a Jewish organization that provides educational programs for Jewish high school students. (“On the Hunt for Internet Sex Predators,” December 16, 2005)

MSNBC reports that “50,000 predators are online at any given moment,” and that “One in five kids [online] has been sexually solicited.” I used to worry that church was becoming too Big Brotherish by insisting on criminal background checks on ministerial and church volunteer applicants. I’ve changed my mind. While criminal background checks cannot catch everybody, what seems clear from my reading today is that those who are practicing pedophiles frequently work with children professionally or avocationally. (Note: That is not to say that anyone who works with kids is automatically suspect. But the implication is clear: positions involving child-supervision are magnets for pedophiles.) This is not news, of course. But stories like this really bring it home to me.

What to do:
One of the best lawyers serving the church today is a Spirit-filled Pentecostal, and he’s also the main lawyer (general counsel) for the Assemblies of God: Richard R. Hammar. He has prepared a few resources that could be helpful to you: Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse While we can’t screen everybody our kids come into contact with, there are certain things we can, and must do for our children:

» Keep channels of communication open with your kids.
» Keep computers in a visible place, not behind locked doors.
» Use net filtering/monitoring software on all Internet-connected machines. Let your wife choose the password.
» Monitor and question excessive amounts of online activity.
» Monitor the acquisition of computer hardware by your kids—especially webcams.
» Monitor phone usage and know who’s talking to your your kids.
» Monitor the gifts and packages your kids receive in the mail.
» Make sure there are at least two adults at every church or school function your child attends.
» Make sure there are at least two adults home at any “sleep-over” your child attends.

There may be other, better guidelines you have in place. Please feel free to suggest them.


Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World The 13-year-old boy sat in his California home, eyes fixed on a computer screen. He had never run with the popular crowd and long ago had turned to the Internet for the friends he craved. But on this day, Justin Berry’s fascination with cyberspace would change his life. By Kurt Eichenwald.

Also see the related Times’ articles:

   » Video: Interview with Justin Berry
   » Graphic: An Easy Path to Trouble
   » The Customers: Where the Credit Card Trail Leads
   » The History: A Shadowy Trade Migrates to the Web
   » Reporter’s Essay: Making a Connection With Justin
   » Documenting a Crime That Thrives on Anonymity

New link – January 16, 2006: Doing Good and Telling a Good Story: A Delicate Balance
New York Times public editor Byron Calame reviews how Eichenwald and the Times maintained ethical boundaries in this story, and reveals Justin Berry’s humanitarian work with the homeless. Using money left over from his years in the pornography business, “Justin purchased several tons of clothing [and] oranges and rented a truck. … He then began heading into homeless areas around Los Angeles every night, where he delivered clothing and oranges to the homeless.”

Kurt Eichenwald interviewed on the Today show

A Heartbreaker From Eichenwald And The Times
This brief article rapidly dispatches any claim that Eichenwald may have violated ethics in how he conducted himself during this investigation.

The New York Times Legal Aid Society — The newspaper helps a very young pornographer find a lawyer By Jack Shafer.
The Slate takes Eichenwald to the woodshed for intervening. Eichenwald responds handily.

Under the Sycamore Tree: The Axe Handle Applied
Barry York writes a deft take on this issue from the perspective of using tools properly. He quotes Neal Postman and makes an analogy using Boniface and his wooden-handled axe. “What the world bows before to satisfy its own lusts, we must take and use as leverage to chop down the idolatry. Young people need training in wisdom from the mature on how to guard themselves from the dangers of the Internet while at the same time being shown how to use it for Christ’s glory. Rather than doing Google searches to see the latest shenanigans of a movie star, the church must be searching out the wisdom and knowledge now available at its fingertips like it never has been before. Instead of blogging turning into a display of idleness and empty words for which we’ll be judged come the last day (Matthew 12:36-37), Christians must use it to get someone out there in cyberspace to really think about something important for a minute.

Dangers children face online
Dateline NBC: Hidden camera investigation turns spotlight on Internet predators, by Chris Hansen.

On the hunt for Internet sex predators
Dateline NBC: Respected members of the community have a potentially criminal secret — one involving the possible sexual exploitation of children. What happened to these men after the first ‘Dateline’ report? By Chris Hansen.

Courting Danger Online–Teenagers and the Internet
From the The Albert Mohler Radio Program. Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Judith Reisman
Dr. Judith Reisman is sought worldwide to speak, lecture, testify, and counsel individuals, organizations, professionals and governments regarding: fraudulent sex scientists, sex education; and the power and effect of images and the monopoly media to alter human behavior.

Girl Model Sites Crossing Line? By Julia Scheeres, for Wired magazine.

Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse Richard Hammar

[tags]BlogRodent, Pentecostal, Justin-Berry, Kurt-Eichenwald, camwhore, webcams, The-New-York-Times, NYTimes.com, Richard-R.-Hammar, Richard-Hammar, child-sexual-abuse, sexual-abuse, pedophilia, porn, pornography, exhibitionism, redemption, salvation, grace, baptism, water-baptism[/tags]

65 thoughts on “Justin Berry: From ‘camwhore’ to water-baptized witness for the State

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  5. Chad

    Awesome story! Thanks. The web is not a friendly place it is the sinking sand that can reveal the vilest of human behavior. I loved the work on Integrity on the Internet. Great work.

  6. Rich Post author

    Thanks, Colin, for the kudos. Thanks, Chad, for your contribution, and the kind words. You’re right, the Web can be a sandpit. But I don’t want to sound dismissive of the technology. In many ways, the Internet is bringing people closer together and creating communities where none existed before. The art of writing reveals parts of ourselves that face-fo-face often does not.

    The danger is not inherent in the ‘Net itself, but in using technology without heeding unintended consequences and without having proper respect for the true power of a thing.



  7. Lori Lee

    Justin, I just got finished watching the OPRAH Show and WOW what a brave guy you are. You will never know how many children’s lives you have saved by coming out and telling your story. Thank you so much for being so brave. I would also like to say “thank you” to Kurt who came across your site by chance and had the courage to go forward and help you. I wish you both the best. God Bless

  8. angie

    Not to sound cold hearted or anything, but doesn’t anyone stop to think, “where are these kids’ parents?” A thirteen year old child, in my opinion, has no business having a computer in their bedroom. Kids need to be monitored by their parents. Stop blaming pedophiles and molestors. If the parents were being parents in the first place, I believe a lot of these horrible acts would be diminished. Stop finding scapegoats, and start being parents.

  9. daniel

    he did it for the money and nobody made him do it.he knew right from wrong.it is a shame that oprah had him on there.i dont know him,but by listening to him on oprah,it sounded like he knew what he was doing from the begginning.

  10. Lisa

    I watched you on tv today what a suprise Justin, I’m glad that you’re one that got helped, and I know as a teenager myself i seen so many sick people. i am a mother now. and hopefully time my daughter gets old enough the internet will be out of style lol…
    God Bless you and Your family

  11. Chandra

    God Bless you Justin! I have 2 young sons and you have opened my eyes to so much, I could never thank you enough!! I will pray for you always……

  12. Chandra

    Thanks Kurt Eichenwald, for your awesome story. You and Justin both have just saved so many innocent children. May God Bless you greatly…………

  13. Kathy Buchanan

    Thank you so much Kurt for your work and Justin for your decision to turn to righteousness and to trust. Is it possible to obtain a copy of an interview such as the one with Oprah to use for showing to parents to inform them?
    Thank you, Kathy

  14. Rich Post author

    Just to be clear for all the recent visitors from Google and elsewhere, I–the author of this post and other items on this weblog–am not Kurt Eichenwald and I am not Justin Berry.

    Thanks for all the supportive comments, by the way. It’s great to see people have Justin in their prayers. He needs it–for a long time yet to come.

    You can find links to Kurt’s interview with Justin here on this post and you can find a bit more information about the links at Oprah’s website on my latest blog post:

    Justin Berry: The Risk of Redemptive Reward

    Regarding Justin’s vs. his parents culpability: yes, Justin knew what he was doing, but at 13 he didn’t have the moral responsibility to make those choices. Yes, his parents neglected him, and they are responsible for that–and they will answer for it even if not legally.

    Nevertheless, this doesn’t lessen the responsibility of those who paid for his porn. They are still evil men and should pay for the crime of peddling in child porn.



  15. Cassandra

    I praise God that Justin was able to be helped and turned away from the easy money of online porn. He sacrificed his soul and innocence in the process, but God can take something old and dirty and lost and make something good and clean and new again. The age of computers and webcams has given us only a glimpse of what God sees and has seen for thousands of years. I can’t imagine the pain and sadness God feels over these now seemingly common events.

    I truly believe that Justin was an innocent in most of this and that his parents should bear a most of the blame (outside of the pedophiles). It’s a parent’s duty to guide their children and keep them on the right path. Even a bright 13 year-old cannot be expected to know what kind of evil is out there waiting to trap them or have any inkling of the consequences. Justin was expertly manipulated to the point of feeling like he could not get out, but when faced with the opportunity to get out, he made the right choice. The fact that Eichenwald is now the one who is helping Justin get help and get on his feet says a lot about his parents — Where the hell are they?

    Also, I would like to add a suggestion to the guidelines given in the article. I put a program called Spectorsoft on our home computer about a year ago and it was one of the smartest things I ever did. This software allows me to see exactly where my 14 year-old son has been on the internet and it takes snaphots of the screen so I can see what he sees. The filters we thought were protecting us were useless. I was shocked to learn where he was going and confronted him immediately. I reminded him that there is no one on planet earth that cares about him as much as I and his father do and that we always only want what’s best for him. He actually thanked me for being there and doing my job and our communication is better than it ever was. I still use Spectorsoft because I know the temptation will always be there for him. He is not allowed to use the computer anywhere but the family room and only with an adult present. We do not have instant messaging nor is he allowed to have a webcam. Do I sound like a dictator? Trust me, it’s better than the alternative, which I have seen. PARENTS — DO YOUR JOB!!! They are not equipped to fully understand their choices and consquences!!! Kids are relying on us to protect them, so if you love your kids, then do what you have to do!!!

  16. James C.

    I agree it must be hard for Justin to go through what he did at the age of 13, but give me a break; when he reached the age of 15 he must have known that these “Peepers” were there for more then just friendship. They showered him with gifts and money, asked him to show off his body and perform sexual acts. He agreed to this not just once but probably hundreds of times.

    Justin is not a Saint that everyone is portraying him out to be. He opened up a Paypal account to collect his earnings, went to that apartment that these “Peepers” rented for him and went on those countless amounts of trips to Las Vegas. And he did it without anyone holding a gun to his head. He knew well enough what he was getting himself into.

    These “Peepers” didn’t just go on Justin’s site once and asked him to come visit them. Justin probably did his homework, got their information, maybe even pictures of them, defiantly their credit card numbers and then made the decision to fly out to meet them if they paid him the right amount of money.

    When someone from his school found out about his website, he got scared thought everyone would think he was Gay and then be humiliated. So he ran away with this burden on his back. With no support from his friends Justin confided to his father. His father should have been a father and put a stop to what was going on, but money will always corrupt weak people’s logic.

    Tried of doing the same routine and feeling sick about what he was doing; as we all do with our jobs, he meets Kurt Eichenwald to take him away from the world he created. I have a suspicion that Kurt may have also planted some seeds in Justin’s entrepreneur brain with fame in a different manner. Hey! he got to go on the Oprah show, does anyone know how much she pays for an appearance?

    To wrap things up online porn has its differences from strip clubs or the sex trade. No one is forcing anyone to turn on those webcams, chat with people they don’t know, take off their clothes and do sexual acts. There will always be a way to power off your computer, close windows, and block unwanted messengers. You can’t do that with strip clubs or the sex trade. “Peepers” will always live on the Net; it’s a fantasy world for them, it’s a world where they can hide behind screens, close windows, delete their URL history, download free porn and take advantage of the willing. Justin Berry used his looks to lure his clients to make money and to get things bought for him; he is also using the same looks to win over the hearts of all Americans.

  17. Mary

    Hey.. My name’s Mary.. I just saw Justin on Oprah last night… and I almost fainted. I was in Mazatlan Mexico about 2 years ago.. When I was 15.. and was at a bar called Joe’s Oyster bar.. and I was scoping out the place looking for all the cuties, you know. And thats when I saw Justin, sitting at the bar with an older man with a white beard. My friend and I drank, danced, hung out with Justing that night and one his friends.. It was a lot of fun. We have pictures and everything from that night. I always couldnt wait to go back, just to chill with him again. This is so surprising.. Shocking!

  18. Rich Post author

    James, I don’t think anyone is claiming sainthood for Justin Berry–at least I am not. While you admit that at 13 Justin was already in over his head, but then you say that “His father should have been a father and put a stop to what was going on, but money will always corrupt weak people’s logic.”

    Don’t you think the money and attention Justin received at 13, 15, 17–or whatever age–was enough to twist his moral reasoning and logic too? This is how pedophiles work on children: they ply them with love, attention, and gifts–and later fear. I think you’ll find evidence of all that in Berry’s story.

    Sure, he’s no saint, and he was already close to emotional burnout when Kurt approached him. But does does his fatigue mean we still shouldn’t welcome he prodigal come to his senses?

    The point of your closing paragraph is unclear to me. Are you saying it’s Justin’s fault these “peepers” were seduced by him? Are you implying they’re not morally responsible for their evil? Or are you saying that somehow moral people are incapable of resisting temptation whether it’s a strip club or a porn cam? I don’t get it.

    As to Jason nefariously using his good looks to win over the hearts of Americans, I don’t get the sense in anything I’ve read that Jason arranged for Kurt to discover him so that he could be “persuaded” to leave his former lifestyle, and be “persuaded” to turn over evidence to the Feds, so that he could be “persuaded” to appear on Oprah all so that he could finally make a nice windfall off of Oprah Winfrey, enjoy the acclaim of millions and retire on a quiet beach somewhere.

    Jason seems to be incapable of making many decisions for himself right now–he’s letting his new father figures make them for him. And that’s my concern for him. If his “handlers” don’t protect him from the limelight soon, he’ll face an even bigger burnout than before.



  19. Kayla

    I saw Justin’s story on Oprah last night. It was really sad, and terrifying to think that he went through all of that, especially so young. I really don’t believe that it’s his fault, of his parent’s fault for not noticing it was happening. I feel so sorry for Justin, but I’m glad he got out of it and is doing better.

  20. Anonymous

    Hmm…you people who made judgemental comments about this young man really don’t know what it is like to be exploited on the Internet. Do you know what YOUR children might be up to? Justin Berry is not perfect. He was a kid who didn’t fit in throughout his teens. He needed somebody to be there. Unfortunately, these people (including his own father) took advantage of his vulnerability. Okay, he accepted gifts from these men.

    There’s a term for that…it’s called “grooming”, when an adult wins a child’s trust by giving him or her presents, compliments, money, etc. Then after the trust has been earned, the adult molests or exploits the child sexually. This happens in families, this happens in schools, this happens in churches, and it happens online. He is fortunate to have had somebody who cared enough to help him turn his life around. His own flesh & blood pimped him out for monetary profit, and some of you are saying it’s HIS fault?! Unbelievable.

    On a personal note, I had a similar experience as a young girl. I was a “cyberslut”, too. I didn’t like it. I felt low & dirty. I didn’t receive presents. However, some very predatory older men took advantage of the fact that I was a lonely kid who had an abusive stepfather & a workaholic mom. I was raped at 12 years old by an 18-year-old boy whom I believed was my friend, so I also have sexual abuse in my past. Photos of me having sex with older men in their 40’s were put up on a website. School became a nightmare. People talked about me constantly because I lived in a small town. This was in 2001. I’m now in my early 20’s and my mother still doesn’t know what I’ve been through.

    These men knew I was a minor & it didn’t matter to them. They saw an impressionable child with low self-esteem and they exploited that. Adults hold more power in most situations, so please don’t imply that he or any other exploited child is to blame. Justin’s situation is really no different, except that he is male & he did this for a considerably long time. Sure, I received money but no money or presents is more important than my sense of self-worth. Kiddie porn is real, folks. There were times when I myself wondered what Justin was really feeling, because he seemed so unemotional during the interview. I would’ve surely broken down. However, he might have been putting up a front. Sexual abuse or exploitation really alters a person’s outlook on life. I lost most of my trust in other people a long time ago because of what happened to me. It is traumatic, it is painful. Seeing Justin on “Oprah” should be a wake-up call to people who don’t spend enough quality time with their children, to the point where these children feel that they have to search for companionship online. Then these same people wonder what happened when these children are lured into Internet prostitution, stripping for webcams, kiddie porn. Sometimes they disappear. Or in worst case scenarios, they are murdered.

    See, when you’re young, when somebody seems friendly & offers you presents, most of the time you give them the benefit of the doubt. Adults often ask if there’s a catch, whereas a child will most likely not question the motives. While it seems bizarre to some people that Justin hadn’t figured it out by the time he was 15, keep in mind that he had already been seduced. He had been involved with this stuff since he was 13. Most kids know that it’s wrong, but pedophiles know how to hit the weak spots of even the toughest kid. I had no Kurt Eichenwald there to help me. I had no one to talk to. I had no “Oprah.” I was a timid girl who still played with stuffed animals. I was all alone. Some people think Internet porn is innocent & webcams are harmless. In the hands of the wrong people, these can become tools of destruction. Sounds dramatic, but it is true. Whatever you think of Justin Berry, please be aware that there are many unnamed children out there who have since become adults themselves who are still suffering because of this…and there are kids caught in this plight even today. They don’t deserve harsh judgement, they need help.

  21. James C.

    Hi Rich,

    My thoughts are mixed when it comes to Justin Berry, I feel awful when I hear that he was lured at the age of 13 but hard to justify his behavior when he reached 16. I’m not a Psychiatrist or even work in that industry, but I tried to compare his story with other stories about child molesters. Most of the ones I read or heard of were mostly of children that couldn’t get away from their molesters, they were forced into having sex and then threatened if they told, the Molesters was a family member and they were scared of telling on them, they had to do it to survive or support a loved one from getting hurt, and there are many more.

    But with Justin Berry’s story he had a home, a mom, step father and probably some friends. He didn’t have to go back to Las Vegas, and he was not forced to having sex online.

    If he didn’t turn on his webcam the nightmare would have been over. He had all the doors open for him to escape.

    Justin Berry was an honor student and he was even mocking child protection software that his mom Karen installed in his computer by saying “For most teens in this day and age, computers are what they know; the software is actually kind of a joke.”

    Justin Berry was not technically challenged; he was brighter then most average children his age.

    I can’t understand why he would continue that lifestyle, and continue to visit these men in Las Vegas over and over again and lose count. Then say “ that he was molested” and that he went there thinking he was meeting friends when he was pulling down his shorts and fondling himself in front of a webcam for them. And why would he go back for more?

    He didn’t have to open a Paypal account, he didn’t have to create a “Wish List”, and he didn’t have to try to hide the Purolator packages from his mom who also works with molested children and being quoted in saying “I’ve studied for years and I know the signs. That’s why it’s so mind boggling that this happened to Justin right here in my own home.”

    It’s just sounds too suspicious that shortly after trusting Kurt he becomes his guild for six months on pornography business, gets an offer on a book, drops it and goes on the Oprah show. Do you not think Kurt was a reporter who wanted “The breaking story” and knew what the pay out would be?

    Oh… I am not trying to convince any of the readers that I am sticking up for the Molesters, Pedophiles, “Peepers” and what other names they are called. I think the FBI should have more bait traps for these men and lock them up for a long time. I just don’t think Justin Berry is as innocent as he is being portrayed.


    James. C

  22. Rich Post author

    Thanks, “Anonymous” for the brilliant and sobering comment. I shudder to think what you got lured into and how it will affect you for years to come. I sincerely hope and pray that you have found release from the bondage of your youth and that you have sought and entered into a good therapeutic relationship–preferably with a professional. If you are a believer and are involved in a church I would still urge you to seek professional psychiatric help from a reputable therapist. Frankly, the overwhelming majority of pastors will be simply unable to address your needs. One wishes otherwise, but it’s overwhelming just to read your post, much less sit with you to work through it. And, if possible, seek help from a lady therapist. My greatest fear for you would be that a male therapist or pastor would attempt to take advantage of you because of your past.

    Again, not a pleasant thought to contemplate, much less write. And I wish it were not so, but there are many weak men behind pulpits and in counseling offices.

    James, I encourage you to reflect more on what causes you to have mixed feelings about Justin. I, too, was molested by an adult as a child, and I know firsthand what this does to a developing and unformed mind. And I don’t believe physical presence is required for “molestation.” Further, when the child is underage no amount of consent or active seduction on the part of the minor in any way mitigates the guilt of the pedophile. The relative guilt of the child should not be the focus. Once Justin entered this world at an age when he was literally morally and intellectually unformed it twisted his reasoning even further. Brain studies have shown that teenagers are undergoing such dramatic neural and hormonal “rewiring” during this time that they are really not the same people coming out of their teens than they were going into it. Put a developing mind under these kinds of perverse strains and you will not get a responsible, morally trained, ethical 17 or 18 year old at the end. The fact that Justin came out of the cold and gave up his “clients” actually speak well for him and I hope, dearly hope, that he is on a path to healing.

    There is a reason why societies call children under a certain age minors. There is a reason why young adults aren’t even allowed to vote or drink until 21. Children are literally and legally “irresponsible.” We cannot hold Justin, as a minor, culpable for his descent into depravity.

    Yes, he made decisions. They were insanely bad decisions. They were immoral decisions. They were the wrong decisions. But at this point he needs love, stability, therapy, and spiritual and moral recuperation. Not condemnation.



  23. Anonymous

    Thank you, Rich, for your words of kindness. I shared my personal experiences because I know firsthand the pain of having my trust as well as my body violated. You said that this is something you can relate to, as well.

    James…no one’s saying you’re the bad guy here & we certainly aren’t accusing you of defending the perverts. You made some very thought-provoking points and you should be encouraged to share your views freely. However, I know that it is often normal for people to be cynical or skeptical when it comes to certain things. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is one of them. People simply aren’t willing to believe the victim, esp. in cases where the victim is a bit older & the acts seem voluntary or consensual. My family called me a “lying slut” after I was raped at 12. They basically said I was a manipulator who seduced an 18-year-old INTOXICATED boy into having sex with me, and then out of fear that my mom would discover I’d lost my virginity, lied about it!!! They made him out to be the victim. And me? I was the no-good slutty little girl who corrupted him. A few years later when I was victimized by Internet porn, I was once more told that it was ALL my fault.

    Justin Berry received presents & money. I’m sure he enjoyed that part…what kid wouldn’t? Perhaps that would make him seem like nothing more than a greedy kid who would do anything for money and that would be a fair statement if you only skim the surface, without trying to analyze this young man’s actions. Fact: from 13 to nearly 17 years old, this boy was living a life different from your typical American teen. He had a severe cocaine addiction. He was on over 1,000 pornographic websites. His own father encouraged this activity. Does that sound like the actions of a loving parent? Does that sound like the behavior of a happy, healthy child? Decent adults do not whore their children out for fame or money. His father physically abused him also when he was only 6 years old, causing a head injury that required seven staples. His mom had the father arrested. That speaks volumes about Justin’s emotional/psychological state.

    His actions might have been depraved & deplorable. However, it shows a pattern of self-destruction that went unnoticed for a long time. When somebody that young is being that promiscuous, living a double life, abusing drugs…clearly something is very wrong. Something was missing in his life and that is how it starts with many children. His intentions when he first turned on the webcam were simple & innocent: he was lonely, he wanted to communicate with other kids like himself, he even hoped to meet girls his own age online since he was a misfit at school. Pretty normal for teens to feel that way. Then one day somebody reached out to him. They made him feel good about himself. Then they offered him money for something as simple as removing his shirt. Before you know it, they wanted him to do more explicit sex acts. He was under the impression that they were girls, but “they” were a network of respected professionals who were also closet pedophiles. There’s no doubt that he was knowledgeable about computers, but the fact is that he was still a child. A 16-year-old is still a minor in the United States of America. If you have any sexual contact at all with a minor, even if it seems consensual, even if it’s looking at kiddie porn without actually touching the minor involved, you can be prosecuted. Statuatory rape & pedophilia are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in most states.

    He is not the first kid who has unwittingly invited perverts into his world via the Internet. He is articulate, but that doesn’t mean he’s mentally sound or emotionally secure. The Internet world can also be addictive. People can live out their fantasies online. They can escape. They can assume a whole new identity that is unknown in real life. Maybe it started out that way for Justin & then it snowballed. He was in way over his head.

    Most adults wouldn’t even be able to handle that destructive lifestyle, which makes his story remarkable. Drug abuse is also rampant in the sex industry. Many sex workers become hooked on drugs, not knowing how to stop living like this, using the drugs to take their minds off of the reality that their bodies are being disrespected & abused. Yes, people do have choices in life. Unfortunately, Justin (and others like him) lacked that parental guidance which would have helped him make the right choices. So with all due respect, he was the victim here.

  24. natasha-lin

    I just want to say that i say Justin on the oprah show; and i want to congradulate him on standing up and telling his story with all odds against him. He is a strong person and he deserves all the advantages in life to get him back on the right path to become the great intelligent person he always could be!

    Thanks for all your insperation Justin..Goodluck!

  25. trapper

    At 13, Justin had to know what he was doing and why he participated in sexual perversion. His mother was a counselor for sexually exploited youth and no doubt discussed the matter with Justin at a young age far more than would be expect in other homes. Further analysis may well reveal that Justin is very manipulative and now seeks to profit again from the “victimization” as he did from the original sexual acts.

  26. Rich Post author


    Your post is full of speculation and does nothing to further the conversation. It may be Justin knew what he was doing was wrong. It may be that he wishes to profit from his coming out of the cold–but that’s not the point

    He was exploited by pedophiles and what they did was evil.

    I don’t know why some people want to focus so much on Justin’s moral “deviousness” at age 13 so much. Are you people trying to exonerate the pedophiles for some reason? Do you think that by dismissing Justin’s conversion and recanting of his lifestyle that you can whitewash what the adults did? Why does it satisfy you to focus on Justin’s responsibility? Are you actually feeling compassion and sympathy for the pedophiles caught by the FBI?

    Why are you angry at Justin?

    I will no longer accept comments here which impugn Justin Berry’s morality. We all know his actions were naive, foolish, childish, wrong-headed, and immoral. But this is the wrong focus because the immoral exploitation of children is so heinous that no amount of cynicism toward Justin can wipe away the fact that he was used and seduced and manipulated.

    Get over it folks. If you think Justin is the antichrist and the world is coming to an end because you’re ticked off that he no longer sells his soul online, fine. But post your vitriol elsewhere.


  27. trapper


    No one is excusing or justifying the actions of the pedophiles. Your refusal to post opinions critical of Justin Berry ignores an important point. If parents were more involved in their children’s lives, the pedophiles would have fewer targets. Disconnect the webcams or move the computers out of the bedrooms and some progress will have been made from these articles about a young man who may well not be a victim at all.

  28. Anonymous

    With all due respect, can I ask that these emails from various sources stop? It is simply more convenient for me to visit this blog than to read emails from different people on here. Thanks for your cooperation.

    “Trapper”…I understand the point you’re trying to make & it makes perfect sense. The webcam was a window into the world of porn for Justin. In addition, he didn’t have the greatest parenting or supervision, so I totally see where you’re coming from in that respect. As you can see, both Rich and myself feel very strongly about this issue. Rich briefly revealed his own sexual abuse as a child and I also shared mine.

    Perhaps this explains why Rich seems to be biased against anyone judging Justin. Admittedly, I sort of know how he feels. I don’t know whether or not you have ever experienced sexual abuse and I won’t ask, because 1) it is none of my business, and 2) that is personal information that you might feel uncomfortable sharing with complete strangers online. However, coming from a person who has been there & done that at a young age, including Internet exploitation, it is painful to hear that one is “manipulative” or lying about sexual abuse for whatever reason…whether profit or otherwise. It hits a nerve somehow. Now, no one here has ever met or known Justin Berry personally.

    That is what I can safely assume, anyway. He might very well have enjoyed the presents, money, and 20 minutes of fame on “Oprah”. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a messed-up kid with a messed-up family who landed himself in deep trouble and consequently was used over & over by adults. He was under 18 at the time of these incidents. He was a minor, a boy, and these were grown men who were pillars of their communities. That is the real issue here. Despite Justin’s actions, we have to remember that he was a child and he was clearly not in a “normal” state of mind for many years. I’m not condoning his drug abuse or virtual prostitution, but I’m saying that one should try to see the whole picture.

    And just because his mom was a sex abuse counselor, please don’t assume that she would have talked to him about this stuff beforehand or that her profession would somehow have prevented this whole ordeal. It can happen to anyone’s child. She was working with other people’s kids, who were probably being molested the “old-fashioned” way. She didn’t notice that Justin was being more secretive or whatever until it was too late. Her son was locked up in his bedroom with sophisticated tools at his disposal for at least 4 years. Counselor or not, she should have become suspicious about the abnormal amount of time he spent in there with the door locked. Sure, young boys will masturbate, but didn’t she ever question what he was up to? Parents often don’t want to think that their kids could be in trouble but this boy definitely was & his mom being a counselor for sexually abused youth did nothing to prevent him from going down that road. While helping the other kids, she failed to see what was happening to her own child in her home.

    Justin had his own hand in the situation, he is no saint, but he was still a child. At 13, most children don’t own a webcam & they don’t use it for sexual purposes. He had a webcam but I honestly believe that his intentions were innocent at only 13 years old. These men had him believing they were girls his own age for the first year. How was he to know what they really were? If you’re a lonely 13-year-old computer nerd with few friends, you develop relationships with people online. Being 13, he probably saw it as a dare when one of the “girls” offered $50 for him to take off his shirt. That is how a kid would most likely see things at that age. Perform a seemingly harmless dare or stunt online, get paid.

    In short: we know Justin isn’t completely innocent, he’s done some very bad things…but he’s also had some very bad things done to him. He is trying to turn his life around. He should be commended, not attacked or judged for his past mistakes.

  29. James C.

    Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your story with me and everyone who is following this forum. I personally have never been victimized so I can only imagine what you and Rich went through and I’m probably so far from understand the real pain.

    However I am 26 and live right in the heart of Toronto Ontario, Canada’s largest city. When I moved here at the age of 19; I got swallowed up by the club scene, which consisted of drugs, lack of sleep and sex.

    Living that life I met a lot of younger kids doing the same. I lived with roommates who have used prostitution to pay for their nightlife. In fact I used to live around the corner from a site that paid for my roommates and teens over 18 to masturbate on webcams. Keep in mind that it was monitored and part of a business; but the guys got paid $25 an hour and worked at least 4 hours shifts 3 days a week, they were even fined for every 10 mins they were late which was deducted from their weekly pay. These boys knew what they were getting themselves into. Gifts started coming in like computers, cell phones, gold chains anything they wanted they got. It was like whatever sugar daddy gave the best gifts got the most attention that was just part of the game. One sugar daddy bought my friend a Civic and supposedly the “Sugar Daddy” was married and a Pastor. There are more stories but I won’t drag it out and the business is still running…

    So I can sort of relate to Justin Berry’s story because I have had so many friends do what he did, and all of them knew it was a game they were playing. Most of them have stopped doing the webcam stuff and some were told to leave because the “paying customers” weren’t logging in often enough and watching them. I know most of my friends don’t like talking about it now, wouldn’t go back into that business and have grown out of the club scene. But it was that or them flipping burgers at McDonalds.

    Having more of these sites running is triggering higher demands from “Professional” people to use the internet as a path way to their sick sexual fantasy.

    Do I think Justin Berry should be punished for what he did? NO! Should the men who took advantage of him pay the time? 100%. But my point is that there are hundreds of kids who are Justin’s age and doing this for money today and know the consequences of their action.

    I also don’t believe that Justin’s story can be judged with what happened to you. You were forced into doing something you didn’t want to do and you would have never gone back willingly to that same situation with that 18 year old LOSER over and over again. Justin on the other hand had some control of his actions as he flew back to Las Vegas over and over again. Yes he was a minor but I know many minors here that know differences from teen girls and “Sugar Daddies” and they know the benefits of having one….

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  31. rebecca

    TO RICH,
    Who are you speaking to some one like that who went through something so horrible! Yes he may have know it was wrong but when it comes down to it there were adults in this situaltion egging him on!!! They are the ones meant to be the examples!!

  32. Maria

    “I agree it must be hard for Justin to go through what he did at the age of 13, but give me a break; when he reached the age of 15 he must have known that these “Peepers” were there for more then just friendship. They showered him with gifts and money, asked him to show off his body and perform sexual acts. He agreed to this not just once but probably hundreds of times”.

    I second that, I totally agree.

    Justin knew what he was getting into.

    Afterall, he was the class president, an honor student, right?

  33. Rich Post author

    So, Maria, you think the pedophiles should get a pass because Justin was a bright kid? Should pedophiles and perverts only seduce the smarties?

    Why do you think it was okay for the pedophiles to indulge themselves with Justin?


  34. Rich Post author

    This in from a lecture Eichenwald gave at Marquette University titled, “A Delicate Balance: Objective Journalist, Engaged Citizen.”

    “Eichenwald spent the majority of his talk narrating the evolution of “Through His Webcam.” He also revealed parts of Justin’s story that did not run in the New York Times, such as a medical report that Justin was suffering from a loss of hearing due to untreated ear infections, malnutrition, a venereal disease and whip scars on his back.”

    Marquette Tribune Online Edition
    NY Times reporter discusses objectivity


  35. Kevin

    These old perverts and pedophiles are good at brainwashing kids by using love BS or terror! but I believe Justin is a hero even though it took him a while to confess, some never do because of embarrasment fear or a number of other reasons and anyone against Justin never had to deal with the trauma or maybe they are pro pedophile or pedophiles themselves. support him and protect children maybe even your own!

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  37. David Ben-Ariel

    From what I understand, despite all the typical excuses, Justin knew exactly what he was up to and took it to the bank. The first step of repentance is to confess and forsake your sins, admitting them, being brutally honest with yourself and others — not blaming others for adding fuel to the fire you started.

    May God bless Justin to go and sin no more, to truly be transformed and live happily ever after (seriously).

    Anybody who has sex with an underage person knows it is not only immoral, it’s illegal. But as a former homosexual teenager, and aware of many others, what Justin did is “normal” and easy money, run of the mill. Even though those big bad pedophile wolves shouldn’t have come sniffing our way, we shouldn’t have posed as lambs to entice them. Both are wrong. Both knew better, believe it or not.

  38. Whodathunkit

    Whole thing sounds like a Multi Million Dollar Book Deal. Another money maker for Justin and friends. Could of been by design from the get go. Most people today are in it for the money. This sounds no different. Sex Drugs and Porn, Then turns to Religion, what better title to sell millions of copies. Kid is a natural born genius.

    And now the instructions of exactly how to open and operate one of these pay per view businesses has been published and advertised on every major news network over the entire world. You can find articles regarding this information in a dozen languages and online as well in newsprint.

    This is one of the biggest news stories out there.

    Web cam shows have been going on since the first web cam hit the shelves people. Sex is a very normal thing to man.

    Many Women, other than Lesbians and more open minded women, seem to hate anything that gay boys or gay men do because they feel left out and cannot understand why they are not the center of attraction.

    Most men totally understand the fantasy of sex and must enjoy it. Sex is natural, most everyone enjoys it and most people enjoy reading and discussing the subject. Otherwise you would not be in this discussion to begin with.

    For proof simply type in the word Sex in a search engine and discover how many times it is found online. Type in war, religion or bible and compare.

    Sex sells, and thats the bottom line. Would you rather look at an old person with wrinkles or youth? Pretty basic deal. Today the technology allows more expression of art and romance. It is another revolution of time. The M Generation Multi Media people. What difference does it make if someone is 13 or 75. Guess most of you were never Boy Scouts… LOL

  39. Kevin

    I regret any child had to but thankfully Justin risk his life to save others that means alot authorities can’t get the kind of evidence they did without his help I hope other children can gain courage from Justin and stop the terrorism
    on the innocent our goverment has no tolerence on terrorist against the US well children are our future. and child molesters are terrorist the children who’ve died or been molested might have cured diabetes or some other burden on society but now I guess we’ll never know the damage has been done and further needs to be avoided at all cost

  40. Rich Post author

    Thanks for the comment David Ben-Ariel. Whether or not Berry as an adolescent “knew exactly what he was up to” is simply debatable. Nobody will ever know this side of Heaven, and it makes little sense to debate it because the State granted him immunity. What’s at stake here, now, is the investigation and prosecution of full-grown adults who behaved criminally. Progress and reports on this investigation are, to be sure, glacial. But the evidence won’t be going away anytime soon, and these criminals–I’m hoping–will be identified and prosecuted. Thank God for Justin Berry’s help at that if nothing else. Who cares if he gets attention for it. Does that really matter in light of stopping criminal activity that is real and active right this moment?

    No. Of course. It doesn’t.

    Yet, according to your logic, Justin hasn’t repented of his sins unless he goes to jail for them, and unless he refuses to relate the story of his seduction–and make no mistake, the details of his story reveal seduction and he was the victim. We who hear his story recognize the seduction and know where to pin the blame. But by the logic you present, nobody is responsible for any of this except Justin. This, in my view, is farcical. Adults quite simply bear the burden of responsibility for this kind of moral perversion–even if they cough up evidence that the minor “was asking for it.”

    I do appreciate your comment, though: “May God bless Justin to go and sin no more, to truly be transformed and live happily ever after (seriously).”


    You commented, “Even though those big bad pedophile wolves shouldn’t have come sniffing our way, we shouldn’t have posed as lambs to entice them. Both are wrong. Both knew better, believe it or not.”

    I agree here, to a point, as well. I’ve never argued that Justin doesn’t have any moral responsibility and that he doesn’t need to repent of anything. Certainly, Justin’s behavior was sinful and illegal and there’s no easy line anybody can draw and say, “before this point, he was a victim, after this point he was a perpetrator.” Thank God, then, that Justin did repent, has come to faith, is following Christ’s commands, and is helping persecute these criminals with legal means.

    Also, thank you for commenting, Whodathunkit,

    But your assertion that a 13-year old boy would plot a career in webcam nudity, international pornography distribution, prostitution, drugs, and addiction just for the off-chance that he could safely chuck it all when a major MSM investigative journalist interviews him for the chance to ultimately sign a multi-million-dollar book deal is so astonishingly ludicrous it’s not even laughable. It’s sad.

    Yes, it’s a big news story. But what’s your point? That sex sells? Yes. So what? Yes, a Google search on “sex” turns up 584,000,000 hits. But did you know a search on “love” returns 1,370,000,000 results? Who knew love was 230% more interesting than mere sex? But even if sex were 100 times more popular, what would this prove? That any behavior satiating one’s sexual urges would be acceptable and appropriate? I’m sorry (well, no, I’m not) nobody gets off the hook because sex is good and lust is common. There are legal and appropriate and moral channels to satisfy sexual needs. Pedophilia is not one of them.

    Your gender/sexuality opinion strikes me as confused and irrelevant. You claim women are hate homosexuals because women aren’t the center of these males attention. Can you cite studies affirming this, or is it your personal observation? And if it’s your personal observation have you considered that perhaps your sample is biased and non-representative? And, what does that have to do with anything in this topic? Are you saying that masses of women are angry at Justin Berry because he didn’t service them?

    You ask: “What difference does it make if someone is 13 or 75?”

    When you have a daughter or son of your own, ask yourself that question when you leave your three-year old child in the hands of a convicted sex-offender for a night of babysitting. I suspect your views and attitudes might change.

    And, yes. I was a Boy Scout. Don’t know what kind of Troop you were in, but experimental pederasty was not part of my experience in Scouts.

    Thank God.

    Kevin, thanks for your comments,

    I fully agree. I hope more children come out of the woodworks to help put a stop to this. Sadly, I do think Justin’s confession and evidence will only dent the criminal underground. Not only does sex sell, sin sells, period. Legislation and prosecution helps, but the only way to stem the tide of victims is spritual transformation. And the only path to spiritual transformation I can recommend is through Christ. This is not something that can be legislated! (Good thing, too.)



  41. Whodathunkit

    A few holes in the Justin Berry’s story.

    1. If he was receiving so many gifts from his Amazon Gift List, that he had to “rush home from school to get them off the porch and hide them from his mom” Who took care of getting them off his porch when he traveled to the so=called Computer Camp and on his Las Vegas trip? Ummmm

    Also, why are none of the wish list gifts reported as sent on his Amazon Wish List site which is still up?

    2. Best of my knowledge anyone that opens a Pay Pal account that wants to receive funds has to also have an active Checking Account at a bank for the funds to be transfered into. So Justin had a checking account when he was 13-14 yrs old? And if so his mom never looked at his balance?

    3. The http://www.justinsfriends.com and http://www.justinsfriends.net web sites are still active. EVERY web site I know of is listed with Whois.com and other registration clearing houses. All have the owners name, address and phone numbers listed. Why is it neither of these web sites are listed?

    4. One would think the majority of people that earn enough money to actually have a credit card, would have a clue not to use such card to purchase illegal materials on-line. Especially 1,500 people. “Oh, can you ship me a pound of pot while you are at it, here is my home address and my credit card number with my legal name on it”. DUH!!!

    4. If his long lost father, who came back into the picture later and was involved in this entire deal, was involved from the get go as I pointed out earlier in another post. Then some may think he may of been involved earlier than the date told by Justin.

    Still, the non-registered web sites pose another interesting question of this entire story.

    Many people make up stories to get attention, or to cover up for other problems. Some people leaving Casinos have claimed to of been robbed of their winnings and Rent money. Several have been caught lying about being robbed to cover their gambling debts.

    Not saying this guy is lying, but there are holes in his story that just don’t add up.

    I guess Sadam Hussein was just as stupid using a cell phone with GPS tracking on it, registered to his real name. Good Grief.

  42. Whodathunkit

    Oh another part of the story that makes no sense.

    Perhaps his mother did open him a checking account for his Computer Consulting Web Page buisness. Okay I am good with that.

    Don’t you think she would of helped him keep track of his deposits and checks etc?

    Also, he claimed to “HIDE” the wish list gifts behind his dresser. If he was doing so well in his ligitimate Web based buisness, why would he need to hide merchandise he purchased with the money he earned from his business?

    Article says he earned over a hundred thousand dollars. His dad sure picked up on the deal, guess his mom was too busy at work.

    As Rush Limbaugh says, Follow the Money.

  43. Whodathunkit

    In most contries other that the US and some oppressed comunist and dictatorships age of consent for sex is as low as 12 years old.

    The comment about the Boy Scouts was in refference to boys in tents sharing information about sex growing up. Perhaps you gew up in a Monestary? I gew up in the real world where boys experimented and messed around alot. Pretty common occurance at purberty in males.

    Other countries also allow minors to drink wine and alcoholic beverages, with little social problems resulting from such liberal acts.

    At one time in history not so long ago, Apprentice males would connect with Journeyman to learn trades. The Greeks were amoung those that trained the younger men in trades to better the society. It was common knowledge there were some that had more than just a working relationship with the Journeyman. As they grew older, they became a Journeyman and moved on, to train their own apprentice.

    The US is one of the only countries that has such weird strict morals. Most these strange beliefs came from the Bible, which I believe was written by people in the Middle East. However, the Bible today has been re-written so many times and the inturputation changed, to make one wonder if it is actually what was written ages ago. Of if politics have woven their way into the writings and teachings.

    Of course many people that live in the US today still believe in Super Natural Beings, otherwise known as Aliens who are not of this world. Such as a God and a Holy Sprit. That in itself seems to put those who believe in such, on the edge of insanity by the mere description.

    It is a very strange oppressed society we live in today in the US.

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  45. Gary

    The real tragedy in this story is that Mr. Berry will not have to serve any time in prison for manufacturing and distributing child porn for five years.

    Whoever signed off on this immunity deal should be prosecuted for stupidity. As the correct course of action would have been to charge this child porn entrepreneur with multiple felonies — with the promise of 100 years in federal prison if he refused the offered plea bargain. Within two days of being arrested and jailed on fifty felonies, he would have agreed to anything, and furnished any and all evidence to use against his partners in crime.

    But as it is, thousands of young teens will now get the idea that they too can star in their own child porn web cam business and retire when they get too old for the pedophiles. As pedophiles can now use press coverage to show kids how much money Justin made, and that they can’t get in any trouble — citing Justin as an example.

    The fact is that when he was 17, Mr. Berry was still selling child porn. And 18-year-olds are old enough to ship off to fight in wars. So don’t delude yourself into believing that he’s an innocent victim — as he was clearly old enough to know what he was doing.

  46. Whodathunkit

    Exactly what laws did Justin Berry break by sending digital images of himself that he made and owned over the internet? Didn’t know there were laws against exposing onesself online. Especially if most of the transmissions were originated in Mexico. What country is responsible for that type of production?

    One needs to keep in mind the Internet is a Global entity, and at most times does not come under US state or federal laws.

    There are a ka-zillion people practicing self exposure with web cams and doing it 24/7 and even on Leap Year Feb 29th.

    Don’t think you could ever get close to attempting to enforce any laws regarding that procedure if there are in fact any in existance. I believe that is what the entire discussion is about.

    However I have always found that any thing popular is normally made either illegal or a fee is imposed on anyone that wishes to posess or use it. Typicall greed factor comes into play by those that see a profit from a popular attraction. Keep in mind the majority of law makers once were and most still are Attorneys. The feed their young by making laws against the most popular and wanted things on Earth. Got to remember most of their relatives are Attorneys as well, so they can either make money defending the people that will for sure break a rule set against a very popular trend, or will be paid to prosecute, house and re-habilitate those getting caught. Wich they are guaranteed to have due to the popularity of the act they make illegal.

    Case in point. It is not illegal to have consentual sex with a Big Fat Ugly Woman over the age of 21 in most states. No law against it, because not too many people want to have sex with a Big Fat Ugly person. It is not a popular thing in the first place. It is however illegal to smoke pot in most states, that is because smoking pot is a popular act among a large portion of the population. Same as drinking a beer and driving a car. But 100% of all Beer Taverns sell beer to their customers who 99% of which drove a CAR there to drink the beer. Another popular act that has laws against it to make attorneys and the courts and enforcement businesses wealthy.

    The “Old School” thinking and rules of yesteryear are quickly being replaced by modern technology, information and digitized images are at the tips of ones fingers.

    Newspapers are becoming obsolete if they are even still in business. Radio ads are fading away, TV has 600 stations, and the Internet has a billion or more web sites that offer most anything anyone could imagine and then some.

    A global network of information includes beliefs and philosophies that some may find offensive and that go agains the ones they were taught. Right or wrong, fair or not, people today now more than ever have the right to determine how they want to research information and to form their own opinions of things.

    The Religious Industry, which is a business with a Tax Numeber and officers one or more which are a signatory at the bank fear this new age of information. As it exposes things in a micro moment in time to billions of people all at once. TV used to be fairly quick to desiminate information, but the internet is much quicker and is not Censored.

    I trust most people that are very set in their ways and are closed minded such as biggots, predijuced and those that discrimate against other groups, oppose the open source feel of the Internet more than others. It allows a common discussion of facts and exposes things that once were considered bad and a scurge to the entire World to look at and make a decision on. There are web sites on both sides of the issues and sometimes a thrid or fouth view is provided.

    This open style of communication spans the Globe and allows man the next step in growth. Once it was the invention of the Printing Press, then the Radio, then the Television, and now the INternet. Each step has brought man closer together and has torn down barriers that separated prehistoric believes.

  47. I'm not sayin'!

    Hey “Whodathunkit”:

    Learn how to spell, and your if-it-feels-good-do-it mentality is EXACTLY what’s wrong with this country, society, and the world at large. There IS a thing known as right and wrong, and yes, SOMEONE should police it… and learn how to do so effectively! We shouldn’t just cave into everything just because its difficult. This country was founded on courage against the seemingly impossible, not the mindset of that which was the most seemingly expedient at the time.

    Doing ANYTHING immoral is ALWAYS a choice, choices that SHOULD have consequences! Your mindset might work well in Amsterdam, but this is the United States…supposedly founded on moral purposes. And yes, I DO think they should be enforced upon others whether they agree or not! People know right from wrong — we’ve known it since we were a kid! For example, competition is good, greed is bad…everyone truly knows the difference (even though they may justify their greed as “everyone else is doing it,” which is so first-grade! The grown-ups of this country need to start acting like it or we won’t have a country to worry about anymore, and the world will then REALLY be in a bad shape. The U.S. is the ONLY guarantor of ANYONE’s rights globally! We’re the ones the rest of the world looks to for strength and purpose. Without us the ‘free’ world won’t be free for much longer! The evil people will take over, helped by the idiots that think the evil people are the ones with the “right” answers! By the way, New York and California does NOT comprise the whole of the U.S.; if that were true Dubya wouldn’t have been re-elected with a significant majority vote in 2004!

    Examples of right from wrong: (guess which ones are the “right” and the ones are the “wrong” answers…)

    Should abortion be legal?

    One view: Life is ALWAYS important regardless of how you determine it started, and no one has the right to determine who should live and who should die (How Hitler of you!).

    Another view: Life is at the discretion of the host (mother) carrying it. While selfish, the host can determine if the life will remain to see the light of day or if she will exterminate the life inside her. Supposedly, this is a real “choice.” (Hmmm, life or death, I wonder which way I should go on this one…)

    Should people be allowed to marry the same sex:

    One view: Marriage is a covenant relationship instituted and blessed by God alone between one man and one woman.

    Another view: Marriage is what I say it is (How Bill Clinton of you, but I wonder how you define “is” now!?!). I should be allowed to “marry” a cow, my same-sex “partner,” my dog, or any multiples I want! Why not marry EVERYONE?!?

    Should illegal aliens be allowed to become citizens just because they’re here already illegally?

    One view: ANYTHING illegal should be dealt with as that which is illegal — regardless of what it is! If someone is within our country illegally they should be found and deported PERMANENTLY at once. There should be a hard barrier between Mexico and the U.S., and it should be strictly enforced by the National Guard by aiming to shoot to kill anyone that tries to circumvent the border access areas. After all, why have a border even drawn on a map if any can come and go as they please? What’s the point of a border?

    Another view: Well they’re here already, and it would be too expensive to try and fix the situation now (like FDR’s New Deal was cheap!?!). After all moral-relativism suggests there’s always a reason to do the most rediculous and moronic thing! Why not now, too!

    Should I become an “intellectual” like my college professors who seem so pedantic, knowing almost everything and questioning everything yet nothing at the same time?

    One view: Sure, if you believe that shelfing your brain at the educational institution of higher learning of your choice is a good idea! I’d rather that people actually USE their brain rather than taking everything the professors have to say hook, line, and sinker as the “gospel” (…yeah, according to Judas!).

    Another view: I don’t know much about anything in this world, after all I’m only just now starting to care about what I’m going to do for the rest of my life, where I’m going to fit-in in this world’s social-economic ladder, of sorts. Why not just take someone else’s opinion and run with it, for it hurts my head to actually formulate my OWN opinion…on anything! I think I’ll choose to blame conservative people and thinking for everything that’s bad in this country! That’s it! I’ll write a book, telling people Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Dubya lied. (Oh wait, that sounds like that’s been done before!) And why should lying be such a bad thing; we liberals do it all the time, yet we get away with it because the liberal media never calls us on it!?! Hmmmm. It seems much easier to be a liberal: you don’t have to really think yet people consider you an “intellectual” because you speak your mind…even if you babble jibberish, you don’t have to like fighting evil (or fighting anything, for that matter, except that which is good!). Yeah, this sounds like what I’ll do. Where’s my “Moron” button to give me the distinction of being a liberal!? I can be for anything and everything, because standing up for something would mean I have the ability to discern what’s right and wrong for myself. I think I’ll remain emotionally immature and vote for everything stupid! Where do I sign up?!?

  48. Gary

    Mr. Whodathunkit,

    RE: “Exactly what laws did Justin Berry break by sending digital images of himself that he made and owned over the internet?”

    If you want the exact law, just call your local FBI field office. All I know is that it’s a felony to distribute nude pictures of yourself if you’re under 18 and you live in the U.S. As the ‘powers that be’ consider teen nudity to be as illegal as crack cocaine. By the same token, if a minor takes some ‘erotic’ nude pictures of himself just to keep in a drawer, he can be sent to prison for ten years if he’s ever caught with them. It’s called “possession of child porn”. He’d also have to register as a sex offender. Next, they’ll probably make it a felony for a teenager to moon someone. They’ll call it live exhibition of child porn or something.

    RE: “Didn’t know there were laws against exposing onesself online.”

    Now you know. People who don’t like the laws should be more careful about who they vote into office.

    RE: “Especially if most of the transmissions were originated in Mexico.”

    You are mistaken, as Mr. Berry started selling his child porn from the U.S. when he was 13, and continued doing so for years. From what I read, only a small percentage of his sales were made from Mexico before he retired.

    RE: “What country is responsible for that type of production?”

    He would fall under the laws of whatever countries he posted from. Which means that he could wind up with a child porn arrest warrant from Mexico, if a 16-year-old is considered a minor there. As he didn’t receive immunity from Mexico, and Mexican prosecutors read U.S. news stories.

    RE: “There are a ka-zillion people practicing self exposure with web cams and doing it 24/7 and even on Leap Year Feb 29th.”

    And the minors will be arrested for posting child porn if they get nailed by law enforcement.

  49. Whodathunkit

    I’m not sayin’!

    What is so bad about Amsterdam, Holland? Sounds like they have it way better then we do living here in the United States with all the paid for legislation that attempts to create laws to direct morals.

    Under the direction of intolerant people that seem to be been brain washed into believing in Morals written in a book 2000+ years old by people from the Middle East. The same writings being changed a dozen or more times over the centuries.

    Sorry about the spelling and typos, I was using my laptop at the time. The laptop has a small keyboard.

    Your comments and replies are the typicaly descriminating, bigot types of ideals that many in the United States share.

    WE currently have have mixed cultures in our schools and work places, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, American Indians and a broad group of Peoples’ of many lands. America is the melting pot, as I have read in many publications.

    One may want surf the internet for youth gay human rights and other sites to see how the World has changed over the past decade. It is not how many precieve it.

    If you cannot see the correlation between fighting against racial and sexual orientaion discrimination and group discrimination perhaps you need to read these definitions once again. It may shock some to find how the dictionary describes them by the definitions of their thoughts and actions.

    discrimination n
    Unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice.

    prejucice n.
    Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.

    bigot n.
    One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

  50. Whodathunkit

    As far at the lying politicians of the World go. I believe we all know the majority of wars were by design long in advance to benefit the manufactures and marketers of Warfare equipment. Those sand colored uniforms worn in the first Desert Storm invasion were manufactured long before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Check the Purchase Order date on those uniforms to validate that statement. Many were made by the Sac N Fox Indian Tribe, many many months prior to Mr. Hussein’s so-called invasion.

    The past several conflicts the US has been involved in were held against small countries that had no Air Force or Navy to defend them selves. Great way to expend billions of dollars worth of military armement at the tax payers expense while those in charge reap the profits.

    We spent a Trillion dollars in doing so in little war torn no Navy or Air Force equipped Iraq.

    Oh, can’t forget the Big Lie regarding the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction. I will never forget the day I watched the lie unfold on Television. Once again just as Jane Fonda pointed out regarding the Viet Nam Conflict, the fat cats that manufacture military weapons loved the profits.

  51. pDub

    If anyone wonders whether minors can be prosecuted for distributing erotic photos and videos of themselves, yes they can, and sometimes they are. Everyone has been in such a tizzy about Justin that this little tidbit has passed pretty much un-noticed:

    March 29, 2006

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Two teenage girls face child pornography charges after posting sexually explicit photographs of themselves on the Internet.

    The pornographic pictures of Elizabeth Muller, 19, of North Smithfield, and an unidentified 16-year-old Lincoln girl were discovered on MySpace.com, a social networking Web site, said a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

    The photos of the two teenagers together were posted on each of their respective Web site accounts, spokesman Michael Healey said.

    The 16-year-old was arraigned before a Family Court judge Monday on a charge of child pornography and violating a court-ordered curfew, Healey said. The girl is being held at the Rhode Island Training School pending a probable cause hearing Friday, he said.

    Muller was also charged with child pornography and was arraigned in District Court in Providence.

    A police officer assigned to Lincoln High School, where the girl was a student, discovered the photographs while monitoring the Web site.

  52. Whodathunkit

    HOw can an 19 and a 16 year old be considered Child Porn?

    In many states the age of consent is 16 yrs old.

    Sounds like this one will be tossed out of court.

  53. pDub

    Not necessarily. While the act may be legal, photographing the act and putting the photos on the internet can still be a separate crime.

    For example its not illegal for teenage boys under the age of 18 to masturbate. If it was, just about every teenage boy in the US with at least one hand would be in prison. However, it is illegal for anyone, including the teenager himself, to video or photograph a masturbation session and then distribute the videos or photographs. 16 may be the age of consent in Rhode Island (and 27 other states), but it is child pornography under federal law if the participant is under the age of 18.

    The technology has gotten away from the law. How many teenagers have a digicam or a webcam and a computer with internet access? All by themselves, they can create child pornography in the privacy of their own bedroom and distribute it over the internet. Why would they do it? Not to sell it or give it away to dirty old men, but to trade with each other.

    I think that was what the girls in Rhode Island were doing. They made of bunch of explicit photos, put some up on myspace to get some attention, and probably had a bunch more saved on a hard drive to trade for other teens photos.

  54. Rich Post author

    I am closing comments down on this post. It has moved too far afield from the intent of my original article, and I am not interested in fostering discussion why it is legal or moral or sensible for minors to engaging in unsafe sexual behavior or to be victimized by adults. Further, this post was not intended to be a forum for criticizing Justin Berry in his early teen years. I am simply not interested in that discussion.

    If you feel you must complain to me about this, please comment in the contact form.

    I will still allow moderated pings and trackbacks for now.



  55. Very Disturbed

    Both extremes are correct:

    Justin’s former (and possibly) current should be held under a microscope. However, we all know that it’s God alone who knows the heart, but that we also get a glimpse of what’s going on in the heart from what comes out of the mouth and the fruit of their actions — both are scripturally sound principles. So, yeah, we do get to “judge” Justin. Hopefully, this will be done as fair and as loving as possible. Otherwise we might consider YOUR motives for judging using the same measuring instruments!

    Too, Justin deserves the benefit of the doubt as a 13 year old having been caught-up in a lifestyle that isn’t pleasant. Most likely, the money lured him into doing things that eventually made him feel trapped. As ridiculous as it sounds, how many of us have done things we normally wouldn’t have but for the money that was potentially involved. Which brings me to this, too, scripturally sound precept: For the LOVE of money is the root of all evil!

    Yeah, I get it: where were all the adults in his life?! Yep, I agree! They, at the very least, sucked at doing their parental/adult jobs in showing how to care for him. What a shame! And while it probably is a given that those adults who really knew what was going on to one degree or another (or were completely ambivalent) will “pay” in some fashion or another in the life hereafter. But what does that do for Justin and others like him. Regardless of the payoff he may or may not be getting now from Oprah or whomever, he still has to pick up what’s left of his life and move on! True, Eichenwald seems to be the closest thing to an adviser or parental figure right now. If so, Eichenwald should be held to the same standard as anyone else in his role would be expected to perform.

    If Justin can make a living off of helping others from the entrapped life he once was in, I acknowledge two things: #1: that he wouldn’t have been known other than having the lifestyle and all the entrapments — both good and bad — that his former lifestyle seemed to give him; #2: that, regardless of his former lifestyle, I’m perfectly OK with the fact that he MIGHT be able to make a decent enough living from any interviews, books, appearances, speeches, etc. trying to encourage parents to do their job and for kids to beware of what’s “really” out there!

    I live in a REAL world — one that is NO WHERE NEAR the word “ideal.” Yep, people make money off the most ridiculous of things, but if someone can make money doing something so life-giving, rather than sucking the life out of you (evil-doers), then I’m generally all for it.

    I am very disturbed as to both sides of the argument, because the truth is REALLY somewhere in the middle! (As usual.)

  56. Pingback: The Oprah tsunami hits my blog via BlogRodent

  57. Rich Post author

    I didn’t catch this story when it came out, but it seems that Kurt Eichenwald paid Justin Berry for his confessions. The dollars didn’t amount to much, really, but it ultimately cost Eichenwald his job. Just after leaving the New York Times to take a post at the new start-up magazine, Portfolio, Eichenwald resigned his position as this news broke.

    The exit of Eichenwald, a former star reporter for The New York Times, came Friday in the wake of allegations he gave more money than he had previously disclosed to a teenage boy who was the focus of an article on sexual exploitation on the Web.

    Eichenwald had previously admitted to sending a check for $2,000 to Justin Berry in June 2005 to help find and rescue the then-18-year-old star in a network of child-porn sites.

    A month later, when he realized Berry would be the focus of his Times feature on child porn, Eichenwald said he made sure he got the money back.

    The controversy heated up again last week after sealed documents in a child-molestation court case suggested that Eichenwald shelled out an additional $1,100. (From: “Ace Trumped by Porn News,” via New York Post)

    Worse, Jossip.com reports that Eichenwald not only paid for an account on Justin’s porn-site — with administrative access so he could monitor account activity — but some of this money went to pay for photos from Justin. What kind of pix is unclear.

    Seems the biblical advice to take care when helping someone in sin that you not get snared yourself is good advice for everybody.

    See also: Kurt Eichenwald Resigns from Portfolio from The New York Observer. “Court Papers Said to Show Added Payments by Reporter,” via The New York Times.


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