Her Father Raped Her. He's Dead, but the Video Lives On

Adams case reveals a glaring loophole in state child abuse reporting laws
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2022 7:42 PM CST
Videos of Child Sex Abuse Live on Long After Abuser Dead
MJ and her adoptive mother sit for an interview in Arizona in 2021. State authorities placed MJ in foster care after learning that her father, the late Paul Adams, sexually assaulted her and posted video on the Internet. The videos live on in 2022.   (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

The video of a man raping his 9-year-old daughter was discovered in New Zealand in 2016 and triggered a global search for the little girl. Investigators contacted Interpol and the pursuit eventually led to Bisbee, Arizona, where investigators raided the home of Paul Adams, arrested him, and rescued the girl in the video along with her five siblings. While Adams can no longer physically hurt his daughter—he died by suicide in custody—the video lives on, downloaded and uploaded by child pornographers around the globe and growing ever more popular even as police, prosecutors, and internet companies chase behind in a futile effort to remove the images, the AP reports.

The girl continues to be victimized almost daily as the video and others Adams took continue to circulate online. The Adams video was viewed 4,500 times in 2021, according to data provided to the AP with the permission of the girl and her adoptive mother. Data also shows that police in the US referred the Adams video to NCMEC for identification 1,850 times since it was discovered, contributing to nearly 800 arrests on federal child pornography charges last year alone. Those arrested comprise a coast-to-coast catalog of men that defies economic or geographic boundaries. The seeming immortality of the Adams video underscores the fact that permanently removing images from the internet is nearly impossible because pornographers throughout the world are constantly downloading such images, storing them, and reposting them.

The case also highlights a glaring loophole in state child sex abuse reporting laws. Adams, a member of the Mormon Church, confessed to his bishop in 2010. In Arizona, clergy are among the professionals required to report child sexual abuse to police or child welfare officials. But when the bishop called the church’s "helpline" for advice, a lawyer representing the church told him to withhold the information based on an exception in the state law that allows clergy to keep information revealed during a confession to themselves. The so-called clergy-penitent privilege is on the books in 33 states. Adams continued abusing his daughter for seven years after his confession. (More child sex abuse stories.)

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