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Before long, he was downloading it on a daily basis. I think for people who are listening to this show, when they hear that, it's going to be kind of hard for them to understand what you're feeling. So can you tell me, did you have any concerns for the kid in the videos at this time? I'd been using it for two years, before I started to think these children are real people. He began reading up on child abuse and was upset at what he learned. Dear Mummy, it begins, I'm writing this letter to you, as I cannot bring myself to say what I need to say to you to your face. I am always overshadowed with feelings of depression, guilt, and shame. But I need some time to get my head wrapped around things. He didn't explain the source of the problem, and his mother never asked. And I remember I walked in there, and we started talking. Well, she raised her voice, telling me this isn't OK. I mentioned that at that point, I'd been, I think, 11 weeks clean of child pornography. And I remember she tried talking with me about why I have these attractions. I said, look, these attractions are more intense than they are towards any adult I've ever met or seen.Did it occur that someone else was abusing them by making these videos? First off, the first child pornography I came across I don't think it even involved adults. He decided he wanted to stop watching child porn, and he needed help if he was going to do that. He posted on a mental health forum, explaining his situation and asking for advice. I'm really sick and tired of covering these feelings up. Instead, she made him an appointment at a local therapist for a week or so later. And then she kind of said, so what are you here for? And she was obviously convinced that I had trouble talking with people my own age, so I felt less judged by younger kids, and that's why I was interested in them. And I'm really confident that it's not just being scared to talk to people my own age. But I'll tell you the feeling that overcame me most the whole time was that I was being judged. She basically told me, pretty much instantly, that she couldn't help me.And he was repeatedly told to stop, but he didn't stop. But if you live in a small town, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. To this day, Sybil has not paid any of the 4,000 to Gene.And then one day, word got around a local pub that he was dealing drugs to children in a park. Topix was originally supposed to be a local news site. Russell says she just does not have that kind of money. He moved back to Blairsville after the case, back to his family, his friends, his kids.And while it is presented in this kind of Robin Hood fashion of defender of the community and helper of the community, these are paramilitary organizations who themselves are involved in drugs, are involved in crime. We have stories today of people who very much do not want public shaming. From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life, distributed by Public Radio International. And he just told me pretty much get the F-word out of here. We eat organic food, so--Tony is obviously not a local. Tony said people had even called the salon, asking if Gene was there, and saying they wouldn't come in anymore if he was. 2 and 1/2 months after his fiancee's death, he decided he'd had enough. For most of them, this was going back 40 or 50 years. Guys like Adam hit puberty and discover they're attracted to little kids.This is their way of presenting themselves in the light that they would like to present themselves in, that they're defenders of the community. One woman said she was afraid that Gene might shoot her. Gene packed up to move to Augusta, 3 and 1/2 hours away. And I realized that I needed to speak with younger guys, ones who were going through this right now. And what's remarkable is that they have to navigate that all on their own, with no frame of reference.
OK, well, according to the Daily Mail article that came out at the time, he'd been a bouncer in a city center bar. On the way, he called his sister in Blairsville to tell her Paulette's parents were acting really weird. And if the lies hurt the victim financially, that person is entitled to receive payback.People would be asked to show up like this, and then they would get beaten with iron bars or baseball bats. He looks like the Abominable Snowman or something, with a placard hanging around his neck that says, I'm a drug-dealing scumbag. I'd kind of slept in a little bit or I stayed in the room a little bit. He made a comment about oh, you always sleep this late? It might not seem like a big deal that a couple of idiots are gossiping about you on the internet. You almost definitely know the people who wrote these things about you. Most people in town call it the Hillbilly Walmart, though it's more like a general store. I don't like the way he looked at the younger girls in staff where we worked together. She said her co-worker's marriage fell apart because of it. Another said her husband was slandered, which hurt the family business. I feel like I came out of hearing this story understanding something I really did not know before. My interest in pedophiles began in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trial.Or they would get shot through the knees or ankles or hands. He barely looks like a person, like he's just this blob of black tar and white feathers. So in the Daily Mail article that came out, that said that Jock Nelson screamed for mercy, as he was being tarred and feathered, that it was boiling tar, and that his shirt was pulled down over his shoulders so that it would burn. And you know, the moment you walk outside your house, everyone you see has read it and is talking about it. When I walked into the restaurant Gene was talking about, I had noticed that everyone turned and gave me the side eye. Gene says he only worked there for three months, mostly in the warehouse. But after Gene's case, after people found out they could sue for slander, lots of people started to call up lawyers. I've caught doctors, a dentist, a state representative. He had just been sentenced on 45 counts related to child sex abuse.The police need evidence, and the police need-- there's technicalities out there. He's saying stocks, like in colonial America, like where people would have their hands sticking through wood things, and they would just bring in stocks? When they say but if somebody was put in the stocks, and there was people throwing eggs or tomatoes at them, the police would have to intervene. But in practice, it's just a big message board where anybody can create an account and post a news item. And that day, dozens of people were commenting on Gene's fiancee's murder. And they wouldn't tell Russell the true identities of the posters. What is the first word in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America? And, of course, everyone had heard about the verdict by the time he got back. Stephanie Foo is one of the producers of our program. So this story is about a group that's pretty universally reviled.And too many times in the past when drug dealers have been reported, they go to court, and they're back doing the same thing the same night. And I says, well, if the police intervene, then the eggs and the tomatoes would be thrown at the police. And so more often than not, in places like Blairsville, it's mostly gossip. At first, the comments were sympathetic, people saying they felt sorry for Paulette and her children. There was like five or seven, I believe, user names being real hateful, real derogative, real just nasty on there. It took a year and a half, but eventually a case in Texas went through. And people started talking to him again like nothing had happened, like that guy in the convenience store, the guy who walked out when Gene tried to talk to him? [RUEFUL LAUGH] Yeah, that is kind of how I did feel, to be honest with you. Coming up, we move from a story where the internet is causing huge problems in somebody's life to a story where the internet is actually helping somebody solve a huge problem. From Chicago Public Radio and Public Radio International, when our program continues. I think if there ever was a group that people would want to tar and feather, this would be the group. Though I have to say, before we start, this is not the story you usually hear about pedophiles.
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