A former executive for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has been sentenced to eight years in prison after he admitted having "graphic and violent" child pornography. The guilty plea was entered in court in Virginia by Charles Rust-Tierney, where he was immediately sentenced, according to a report today from WJLA television.
Rust-Tierney previously had served as the president of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU, and admitted his guilt under a plea bargain. He had been in jail since his arrest earlier this year, because two separate judges in pretrial hearings had rejected his request for freedom, describing the pornography as some of the most sickening they ever had encountered.
It was Rust-Tierney who, nearly 10 years ago, had argued before the Loudoun County Library Board against any Internet filters on the computers at the public facility. The library, which had been using filters on its computers, was ordered to change its policy by a federal court.
"The ACLU of Virginia urges the board to carefully consider a new Internet Use Policy that allows for maximum Internet access…," he said at the time. He encouraged the library board to recognize "that individuals will continue to behave responsibly and appropriately while in the library," so therefore "the default should be maximum, unrestricted access to ... the Internet."
Prosecutors said Rust-Tierney, who also served as a youth league sports coach in the area, actually downloaded the materials on a computer in his son's bedroom at home. As WND reported, the 51-year-old was arrested in February and was indicted in May on charges of having what a U.S. magistrate described as "the most perverted and nauseating and sickening type of child pornography" she ever had seen. Authorities said he used his own credit card and his own e-mail address to access and purchase an estimated $1,000 in graphic and violent child pornography during 2005 and 2006, according to Virginia's North Country Gazette.
Magistrate Theresa Buchanan said the material included an extended video featuring the sexual torture of children, accompanied by a song by the band called Nine Inch Nails. He faced a maximum sentence of 11 to 14 years on each of two counts, had he not reached a plea agreement. Court records indicate Rust-Tierney had subscribed to several websites featuring child pornography over a period of years. The federal indictment alleged he "knowingly received multiple computer files that contained photo and video depictions of minor teenage and prepubescent children engaging in sexually explicit conduct."
An anonymous chat room participant on the cannablog was distressed by the low profile in the national media over the case. When Rust-Tierney's arrest first was announced, authorities didn't even mention either his ACLU or youth league coaching connections. "This man was the PRESIDENT of the Virginia ACLU and while he was president, he lobbied to keep the Internet available to child pornographers via any port available, and WHILE he was president he was engaged in purchasing and subscribing to child (infant and toddler torture) pornography for his personal and sexual gratification. The ACLU. Pouring money into a machine that victimizes children. For years. And that the media is keeping this out of sight is okay with you? Wow," he said.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly called it a "horrifying" case. And he noted that the two "biggest left-wing outfits in the country – the New York Times and NBC News – ignored the story entirely." CBS News, CNN and most of the big city liberal newspapers also failed to cover the Rust-Tierney arrest, Fox said. Several area broadcast stations and newspapers actually started covering the case as it headed towards a conclusion. [ABC News covered the story in February, 2007.]
"That Mr. Rust-Tierney, a leading proponent of unrestricted access to the Internet, has now been arrested for receiving and possessing graphic child pornography should serve as testimony to the injudicious and baleful outgrowth of the legal challenges launched by the ACLU questioning the constitutionality of important legislation that protects children from Internet exploitation and content harmful to minors," said a statement released by spokeswoman Cris Clapp of Enough is Enough, an organization dedicated to protecting children from the dangers on the Internet.
"When Mr. Rust-Tierney argued before the Loudoun County Library Board that unrestricted access to the resources of the Internet was essential for our children's ability to learn and communicate, and when groups like the ACLU contend that acceptable use policies alone are capable of protecting children online, they fail to acknowledge the tragic and devastating effects to children and families of both intentional and unintentional access to online pornography," the statement said.