What a Load of Nonce-sense
For someone arrested in connection with any offence relating to child abuse or similar, the Police might as well amend the caution to something like this:
"You do not have to say anything, but anything you fail to say now on which you later rely in your defence may cause the gutter press to draw an inference from that and hound you for the rest of your natural life."
This is old news (December 1999), but it's highly illustrative of the overzealousness surrounding the Wonderful World of Child Abuse Allegations.
That the West Virginia state police were actually willing to press charges in this instance worries me. The comic page in question was in no way, shape, or form criminal (other than the fact that it was from the New Blood EQ series, which is generally considered a low point. Hey, what do you expect, they had been Marvelised when that edition was printed - which can often be the kiss of death for indy comics). But - OH NOES! Because it features even slight nudity and was sold to a minor, the person responsible was OBVIOUSLY a kiddy-fiddler, wasn't he, especially as he collected comics, and only perverts and weirdos do that, don't they, children? Who knows what foulsome hentai nastiness he could have been fwapping over in his garage! Thankfully, the courts saw through this charge of obscenity distribution for what it was - a scam perpetuated by a rival of the defendant.
The article states that "The charge of obscenity was just another weapon in this feud, close at hand, easy to use, and potentially very damaging. It can be leveled at a safe distance, and personal motivations can be concealed under concern for what may be harmful to minors." I cannot say I agree more. Accusations of paedophilia or child abuse can be - and are - used simply to damage peoples' reputations, especially here in the UK, where tabloids such as The Sun bandy about "sicko," "pervert," "monster," and suchlike upon even the merest whiff of suspicion. Even when the accused are found not to be guilty, there will still be hounding by the gutter press, claiming that the "nonce" in question escaped on a "mere legal technicality" and howling that there must have been a "miscarriage of justice". The local community won't be too much kinder to them, even if cleared. The fact that the person in question was simply accused of it means that he must have been up to something dodgy, or so think the locals. If one is accused of kiddy-fiddling and one lives in the proximity of Sun readers [you are never further than six feet away from one in the city - Subed.], one might as well emigrate.
Society has always needed bogeymen, and there's nothing more terrifying to a parent than the possibility that someone might rape their kids - and that it might be someone next door. By playing up this idea, and with concepts such as "Megan's Law" and its UK counterpart "Sarah's Law", and the baying for blood that the shit-sheets embark upon after even the most spurious accusation of child abuse, any lonely, slightly eccentric men who have slightly - erm - esoteric pastimes become easy targets, and it only takes a small amount of low cunning to find something which could be tenuously interpreted as "smut" involving children.
The whole affair reminds me uncomfortably of modern-day witch trials.