Man repulsed, ‘exhilarated’ by child porn on ‘dark website’

Man repulsed, ‘exhilarated’ by child porn on ‘dark website’
July 22 02:48 2016 Print This Article

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A Grand Rapids man was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a “dark website” that distributed child pornography, including images of very young children being sexually assaulted.

Seth Piccolo, 44, pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography, possession and access with intent to view child pornography.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr. said Piccolo was part of a website that operated on the “dark web,” a website accessible only by specialized software with layers of encryption to hide users’ identities.

Piccolo had to upload images of his own collection of child pornography to remain a member of the Australia-based website with members from around the world, the government said.

The FBI and Australian investigators discovered the website and identified hundreds of members.

The government said Piccolo tried to conceal his actions using encryption and evidence-destroying software on his home computer.

“The dark web is no sanctuary for criminal activity,” Miles said.

“Law enforcement in the Western District of Michigan is committed to tracking down criminals who try to use technology to evade detection of their crimes, including child exploitation offenses.”

Defense attorney Matthew Borgula said his client was involved with The Love Zone, or TLZ, website for six months. To prevent police from accessing the site, TLZ required users to upload child pornography onto the website once a month.

Borgula said his client only copied and uploaded images from TLZ’s website to comply with the rules.

He said a forensic examination of Piccolo’s computer did not show any child pornography but it did show file paths between the computer and TLZ.

“Unlike defendants that collect child pornography and then share it with others through file-sharing software, Mr. Piccolo uploaded images onto the TLZ website as directed for the sole purpose of gaining access to view pornography,” he wrote.

He said that distinction was important because it reduced advisory sentencing guidelines by several years.

U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who remanded Piccolo to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, ordered Piccolo to spend 10 years on supervised release when his prison sentence ends.

Piccolo, who is married with children, has no previous criminal record.

In a letter to the judge, he said he felt unstable and used pornography to shock himself “out of the anxiety I constantly felt.”

He said he wanted to live for Christ but followed his own “selfish” path to ruin.

“When I first encountered child pornography I was disgusted by it. What I took in was so abhorrent I knew right away I should get away fast, but I couldn’t. It shocked me that this existed and I was seeing it. The shock caused adrenaline and the adrenaline rush was exciting,” he wrote.

“This is what I had been chasing after my whole life. … I sought out anything that was an aberration and might shock me by its very existence.”

He said it was confusing because he has never been sexually attracted to children and still isn’t. He didn’t dare tell a counselor, doctor or pastor, fearing he would be reported, which would put his family at risk.

“Of course, I put them at immeasurably greater risk by continuing with the behavior, but that irony was lost to me

then.”

He said he was afraid of what would happen to him if found out, “But, I was also scared of what I was becoming, of the darkness that was creeping over me.”

He said he wasn’t seeking sympathy, and he is not a victim.

“I only want to illustrate the difficult position requiring reasonable, difficult, adult decisions a person must make when the mind is compromised by a bewildering hunger for more.

“To my shame, I chose to ignore the problem.”

He said he no longer uses “pathetic justifications” for his actions. He once considered himself a “passive viewer” of child pornography but now realizes that his viewing was “perpetuating so much pain and evil inflicted on innocent children.”

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