Testimony in Minneapolis: Pornographic Materials Often Found in Homes with Child Sexual Abuse

Minneapolis city officials heard testimony about peoples’ encounters with porn, those
who consume porn and those who produce it at a hearing of the Minneapolis Government Operations Committee on
December 13, 1983. This account appears in In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings (p.143-145). [emphasis added]

Testimony of Bill Neiman, Assistant County Attorney in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office

…I have been in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for five years and on the team of attorneys who prosecute all sexual assault cases and child abuse cases at Hennepin County.

…[W]hat I am best equipped to talk to you about is what I have seen as prosecutor, having reviewed hundreds, certainly a hundred or more cases involving sexual assault of adults or the sexual abuse of children.

Now, I should emphasize, and this is important to understand, that generally speaking with pornography, materials are seized or found at the time of the arrest or shortly after the arrest. It is not with a purpose. That is, the police are not looking for these materials, so that when I talk about the numbers I am about to speak of, I say that with the understanding that I have little doubt that if the police, in each case where they suspected sexual assault, looked for material of this type, if they did, they would find a much greater number than are found. I say that because quite a number are found without any special effort being made to look for pornographic materials.

Now, in cases involving adults, primarily women–that is women, female victims–pornographic materials are often found. I would not say in a majority of cases, but a substantial percent of cases, those materials are found in or near where the person lives or, say, the motor vehicle which was used to transport the assailant to the place of the sexual assault.

We do see, with children, a much greater use of pornographic materials. I would say that in the cases that I had–that I have had, and I have had many of them–that pornographic materials are found, if not in a majority of cases, very close to the majority of cases, found in the home of the person who is sexually abusing the children, and often there are very substantial numbers of pornographic materials. These pornographic materials are both adult and children.

Now, an example, and I could give you many examples, an example of a recent case I had–or I have, actually–where such materials were being used. Just for the Committee’s information, this young girl was raped, I believe, by her stepfather, a live-in boyfriend. And one of the things that he did as part of the sexual assault of the girl is, he would sit on the toilet undressed, and she would be undressed in the bathroom, and he would have her, while undressed, hold up, for example, the centerfold of a magazine that depicted a naked woman or whatever. And while she was holding this and standing naked herself, he would masturbate himself. And this use is not extraordinary. It is no more bizarre or less bizarre a use of pornographic material than we have seen. So I think it is fair to say, from the point of view of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, that we have found pornography to be used very substantially where children are the victims and substantially where adults are the victims.

…[M]y personal belief is that pornography does cause people to act out criminally, sexually, criminally in a sexual fashion, sometimes in a physical aggressive fashion…

[T]he child victims…are most often, if not destroyed, partially ruined for life…

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