The Hunting of Dr. Craft
Legal scholar John Wirenius, author of First Amendment, First Principles, suggests that privacy laws might be used to address some of the moral wrongdoing associated with producing borderline representations. In New York State, for instance, it's often a criminal misdemeanor to film or photograph people in public, then sell the pictures or use them in advertising. The principle embodied in this law could be applied to cases like Knox, where someone videotaped the clothed pelvic areas of young girls in a park doing gymnastics, then marketed the tapes. If that had happened in New York, the videographer probably could have been prosecuted, says Wirenius. But Knox was prosecuted in Pennsylvania, and most states' privacy statutes aren't as stringent as New York's. Nevertheless, says Wirenius, it's possible that privacy laws could be expanded "as a less coercive and less censorial means of protecting the legitimate interests of minors." Likewise for libel laws, says Adler.
These are compelling considerations for people at liberty to sit in armchairs. But they're academic for those in prison cells, like Bruce Craft. His appeals slog on with some success: Higher state courts have thrown out more than half his scores of convictions, mainly for those photos that judges decided don't look posed and don't show peeing or toilets. But since Craft's sentence is concurrent, he is still convicted for twenty years as long as even one "exploitation" count remains. As the time drags, he finds it harder and harder to answer letters from family and friends. It's more comforting to look back, to the last time there were kids in his life. That was in 2000, on the day he was sentenced.
Arguing that Craft should be given hundreds of years' hard time, the prosecutor averred that children had been unwittingly harmed by "being touched with this man's eyes." Yet not one "victim" appeared at the hearing to talk about being abused. Instead, several children came who'd already sent handwritten letters to the judge, telling him Craft was a "wonderful man" and that prosecuting him had been "wrong" and "stupid" and "I WISH this stuff would stop."
"I feel so bad like if we weren't his friends this would not have happened it's like it's all our fault," lamented one girl's letter. She and the others wanted to stand up in court and talk about their affection for Dr. Craft. They wanted to stress that their real hurt came from seeing him accused and convicted.
But the judge wouldn't allow it. Adults could testify, he said, but not minors. So the children sat on the benches silently, watching Craft locked up in their name.