Pullman police arrested a WSU employee for uploading child pornography to the internet last Friday. Robert Marshall Long was a research technician in the Institute of Biological Chemistry. His punishment could include up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines, according to the Pullman Police Department news release.
He was sharing depictions of minors performing sexually explicit acts. These children are being abused, and he had the audacity to upload them for other pedophiles on the internet.
If guilty, he should stay in prison for much longer than 10 years, possibly life.
Also, there is no amount of money that could make up for what he did. These children are suffering and $20,000 doesn’t change that fact. That amount is less than many of us pay for tuition to earn our degrees.
Although Long was an employee at WSU, the university should not be blamed for his actions. However, WSU could partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who initially tipped off the Pullman police department of the incident, to help prevent something like this from happening again.
The university could also bring in guest speakers from organizations like the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or even local police officers, to speak to the students and staff. This could lead to the Pullman community being able to recognize possible signs of pedophilia.
According to Amelie Pedneault, an assistant professor of criminology, many pedophiles never sexually abuse a child in person. Nonetheless, the children in pornography are being harmed both physically and emotionally. Sharing and enjoying that is just as bad as taking action in person.
“Some research indicates that individuals who have committed a sexual crime are at the bottom of the hierarchy in prison, especially if their sexual crime was against a child,” Pedneault said. “This often entails being harassed.”
While it’s slightly comforting to know pedophiles won’t be treated well in prison, what would be more comforting is knowing an offender is never going to harm another child again. Keeping pedophiles in prison for the remainder of their lives — never having the ability to see another child again — would be more comforting.
Clearly, this incident is not WSU’s fault. The university had no knowledge of Long’s actions and should not be held accountable. It can help stop this issue from happening again, though. Punishment for this kind of crime is important, but helping prevent it from happening in the first place is something in which we can all take part.