1) What drew you to research such a harrowing topic?
Maine’s sexual assault forensic medical examiner confirmed my two-year-old daughter for rape by her father. Maine’s prosecutors refuse to prosecute and child protection refused to obtain a protection order. My daughter was then given to the sole custody of her abuser at four-years-old. I have not seen her since. That was nine years ago.
My former husband and his lawyer went on a stalking campaign against me, taking my homes, threatening my friends and family and going after my job as a professor, stalking my colleagues, students and supervisors until I lost my employment.
No one has been held accountable for any of these crimes.
I was stripped to my very barest essential—my mind. Trained as a top social scientist I realized if sexual predators were doing this to me and my daughter there were, most likely, many other mothers and children being targeted.
My thought was “Ok. They have taken my child, my homes, friends, family and employment. However, they cannot take my Ph.D. or my education at one of the world’s top research institutes. So, I did what I do best – research.
The book Epidemic: America’s Trade in Child Rape, sets out a research agenda. The research I would really like to complete is a public national database with detailed demographics of all child pornography/trafficking prosecutions – federal and state.
For this I need funding and an institutional home, staff, health insurance, a salary, etc.
The most recent data available is from the Department of Justice, released in 2017, which documents 37,105 perpetrators referred for federal prosecutions from 2004-2013. During this time cases nearly doubled from 1,405 to 2,776. Since 2013 the crime has exploded. America currently has no idea what the true scope of the crime is because the research has not been done.
We need to know who are these 37,105 perpetrators? Where did they work? Did they use their professional position to traffic children? Did the institution cover-up the crime and protect the perpetrator? How many trafficked children in the workplace? How many volunteered with the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club and youth sports in order to access children? Are there professions with a concentration of perpetrators, such as pediatricians or special education teachers—where these preparators have access to vulnerable children and a position of power that provides impunity?
American cannot formulate accurate and effective public policy on the fastest growing crime in our country if we do not have detailed and up to date preparator data. Data is the foundation of effective public policy. Public policy based on accurate data sets the foundation for budgetary resources needed to fight this crime.
If America understood the scope of this crime, I am certain this would result to massive policy changes at the state and federal level in terms of providing financial resources law enforcement and prosecutors need to fight this crime and protect our children.
It all starts with the data. My book sets out the research agenda for that, desperately needed, public database.
2) What draws an offender to engage in the active exploitation of children, or the passive viewing of their exploitation?
Impunity. Pure and simple. Child sex predators are raping and trafficking our children in staggering numbers because they can. Because we, as a country, have allowed this to happen.
End the impunity for child rape and trafficking and we will significantly reduce the crime.
3) Do you feel that the crime of Child Rape/Sexual abuse has evolved over time? Are figures who exert authority more inclined to abuse exploit children?
Yes, the internet and even more so smart phones, have helped child sexual predators and traffickers commit their crime with ease and greater protection. There is a great deal of data on the “explosion” in child rape and trafficking since the internet and smart phone went mainstream. I detail this data and sources in my book.
The Department of Justice’s latest data, as mentioned, documents that those arrested and prosecuted for child trafficking, at the federal level, are 97.1% white men. That is a fact. We need to determine how many of this white men were in positions of leadership that they exploited to committee the crime.
Table 5, page 5 Department of Justice (2017) https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/fpcsecc0413pr.cfm
My research and research done by Associated Press on child sex abuse in the military, which I also detail in my book, does document the crime is, more often than not, committed by powerful men in leadership positions.
This year, US Representatives Abigail Spanberger (VA) and Mark Meadows (NC), introduced the End National Defense Network Abuse Act to stop US military networks from facilitating child sex trafficking. This bill details how only one investigation located some 5,000 preparators using Pentagon networks to trade in child pornography. My guess is many of those individuals were in positions of power.
This is also what has hampered an effective public policy response to the crime, as well as curtailed obtaining the large-scale data of the crime— men in positions of power within our institutions that are committing the crime and want to continue enjoying their impunity.
4) In the 1980’s, waves of pre-schools were alleged to have abused the children in their care (i.e. McMartin Pre-School, Fells Acre Day Care, etc), some considered it a witch-hunt. What are your thoughts regarding previous abuse scandals and ones that have spawned in recent years? Has there been reason to doubt the allegations?
The false narrative of a “witch-hunt” in the 1980s was, I believe, a very well-done public relations campaign by pedophiles. Day cares and pre-schools are well-known supply-sources for pedophiles. If you look at my Medium profile, in 2015, I compiled a sample list of arrests and prosecutions of those in day cares and pre-schools. This list is outdated now but it provides valid data to countermand the false narrative of the 1980s.
To revert to my earlier statement, of the Department of Justice’s 37,105 perpetrators referred for federal prosecutions from 2004-2013 how many worked in day cares and pre-schools? It is important to know and make this data public. If, for example, 20% of these 37,105 cases were of predators in day cares and pre-schools image the public response? Policies would change. Children would be protected. But, at the moment, we do not have the data.
5) The Catholic Church has been accused over the past decades of enabling and covering up abuse of predator clergy. Is the church an anomaly, in this regard? Are other religious institutions beset with the same issues?
Sadly, the Catholic Church is only the most visible example of how organizations protect and enable pedophiles to rape and trafficking our children with impunity.
The structure of protecting, largely, white men in positions of power in our institutions, across America, is the same regardless of the religious affiliation or professional position.
The legal cases now coming forward against the Boy Scouts offers another example. Lawyers representing victims of the Boy Scouts are saying the number of pedophiles protected and enabled in the Boy Scouts may be much larger than the Catholic Church.
Educational institutions across America, higher education to pre-school, also have been employing and protecting staggering numbers of child sex predators.
Lawsuits against educational institutions have not yet begun in the numbers like the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church; however, with the Statue of Limitation (SOL) reforms sweeping the country, the public may well start to see how so many of our institutions have protect and enabled predators and not children for far too long.
6) Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, headlines have heralded large scale roundups of Sex Trafficking rings. Have you found that to be the case? Has there been any progress?
Yes, I often seen that false claim on social media. My response is always the same. No one knows because no one has the data.
Hire me to get this national, public data base of all child sex trafficking arrest and prosecutions built and then we will be able to determine if the Trump Administration is arresting and prosecution more child sex predators than the Obama Administration did.
Absent the data, no one knows.
7) Alleged pedophile rings have been identified in England (Jimmy Saville) and in the United States (Nebraska Franklin Scandal)…What are your thoughts on these groups that are connected to the worlds of government and entertainment?
The crime of child rape is almost always an organized crime. Pedophiles share videos, images and live streams of their rapes with pride all over the world via cell phones and the internet and they also share children they have access to, most often their own children, with other predators.
Child pornography is a networked, organized crime.
Jimmy Saville, in the United Kingdom, and the Nebraska Franklin Scandal here in America are two examples of how this crime works. Examine any one child pornography arrest and prosecution and you will see it was also a networked crime with many actors involved in protecting one another and sharing the children they had access to.
8) Do you think the criminals who perpetrate these types of crimes can be rehabilitated?
Behavioral science experts and child sexual predators often say there is no rehabilitation for a child rapist. Many, if not, most will commit the crime again in prison if they are able to (via child pornography), as soon as they are released from prison, while on probation, etc. It is not uncommon for child traffickers to be re-arrested within months of being released from jail.
The one area where there seems to be positive development on the “rehabilitation” of child sex predators is in chemical castration which I believe should be seriously considered in courts across America.
9) What can be done to stop the proliferation of Child Pornography? Are the nations of the world doing enough? Should the internet have more oversight?
Yes, all technology services and providers must have robust oversight and be held accountable for all child trafficking that they are allowing on their services and platforms.
The way to stop child pornography is to end impunity – for the perpetrators, the technology providers, the banks that lauder the money, the workplaces and organizations that protect the predators, the family court judges who place children with confirmed violent abusers, police, lawyer, doctors and other community leaders in positions of power, etc.
For impunity to end prosecutors and law enforcement need enormous financial resources to put together large, competent child exploitation teams to investigate and prosecute the crime— which does not currently exist.
For example, in 2012, I wrote an op-ed for Forbes detailing how funding a child exploitation unit within the IRS, to go after the money laundering associated with the crime, would be one effective public policy solution https://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2012/09/19/to-catch-government-workers-with-ties-to-child-porn-call-the-irs/#6fd53bb47832
All impunity for everyone involved must end. This will money and a public mandate.
10) With the death of Jeffrey Epstein, do you think the accomplices involved will ever be charged? Have you run across Intelligence operations that utilize children as bait (so-called Honeytrap)?
I am certainly praying and hoping that Epstein’s accomplices will all be held accountable from Harvard University, as an institution that helped provide this college-drop-out predator with legitimacy ,to every other organizational and individual who looked the other way when they knew, full well, Epstein was a child sex trafficker and/or actively participated in the crimes.
Regarding honey-traps as an intelligence tactic, while that is certainly a well-known strategy, I do not have high-level security clearance and do not work in the national intelligence community circles so I wouldn’t be able to say.
I will say; however, as I did in a 2012, Washington Times, the Russians must be celebrating because they no longer even need to set-up “honey traps” as so many of America’s most elite members of our national intelligence community appear to “honey-trapping” themselves by engaging in this crime.
Here’s the quote:
“America’s most professional security officials, from the Secret Service to the Missile Defense Agency, seem eager to discredit themselves. Russians must be celebrating. During the Cold War, they had to train and deploy real female agents. Today, Americans come freely to honey pots directly from the Pentagon’s missile-defense system.”
According to National Criminal Justice Training program, US Defense Department’s internet networks were ranked top 19 (out of 2,891) most active on peer-to-peer child pornography trading sites in 2018. Who needs to set up a “honey-trap” when our military employees are engaged in the crime at these levels?
Dr. Lori Handrahan has over twenty years of humanitarian and human rights work in Central Asia, Africa and the Balkans. Her focus is gender-based violence, conflict/post-conflict environments, UN reform, and ending child sex abuse. She was UNHCR’s first Gender Expert in emergency operations during the Darfur genocide, UNHCR’s Regional Gender Advisor in The Balkans, CARE’s Girls’ Leadership Assessment lead evaluator in Yemen, UNFPA’s Gender-Based Violence Information Management System lead evaluator in Uganda, and OCHA’s sole evaluator on their agency-wide gender review. Dr. Handrahan completed her Ph.D. at London School of Economics. Her work is published widely from academic journals to The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, The Washington Times, Forbes, The National Journal, The Daily Beast, and Fox News. She has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, CTV, and CCTV. Her website is http://www.lorihandrahan.com/.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.