Lecturer: My Child Porn Truth

Following the recent Magistrates Court decision placing York University lecturer Ralph Harrington, speaks exclusively to a close friend of the convicted man

As an intermediary in a case as emotive as Ralph Harrington’s it is understandable that the man to whom I have spoken wishes to have his anonymity preserved. He is, nevertheless, the lecturer’s closest friend, with intimate access to his thoughts and privations, and, as such, feels that he has a duty to contradict some of what he calls the "misapprehensions circulated in the local and campus media".

Specifically he is angered at many of the "sordidly innacurate" facts and figures which have gone unchallenged in the press, concerning both the nature and gravity of Ralph’s conviction. "The 16,000 just referred to the number of graphic images on his computer, of which only 4,000 were pornographic. The rest were for his thesis – they were pictures of trains".

As far as the illegal images go my interviewee insists that they came part and parcel with larger downloads and constituted less than a quarter of the total pornography. "Ralph wasn’t as careful as he should have been with what he downloaded, but fewer than 1,000 of the pictures were deemed to be illegal. Furthermore these activities date from the period between 1996 and 1998. From what you read you’d think he was dragged from his computer by the police yesterday, a download still in progress".
Ralph’s ally believes his comments are borne out by the leniancy of the sentence administered to his friend. "He was put on the sex offender list out of precedent, he would not have been if it was left to the magistrates discretion. Other than that he is on a three year probation which merely entails annual visits to his officer".

Crucially he argues that the court records "substantiate all his assertions" and "provide evidence for his case". If so his claims bear the weight of more than just conjecture and "deserve attention on campus".

Finally I was left only with a request to make clear that neither he, nor Ralph Harrington, were trying to negate the seriousness of the issue, merely add "a little perspective" to the "hysteria" in the press. "It was a time in Ralph’s life with a lot of stress, both personal and professional. Some people would have smoked something, he looked at something. But obviously it wasn’t all pleasant and he regrets that".

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