By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
When David Lavern Paine drove his beat-up, American, economy car to the Foothill Ranch Public Library just after noon on Oct. 6, 2010, the senior citizen planned to commit a sex crime in public. Clueless that an amateur detective tailed him, Paine entered the library, walked to the public computer station and, without any sense of shame, began searching for child pornography on the Internet. Paine's suspicious wife—the person who'd followed him—snuck behind him to see one of the first images that delighted her husband that day: a naked girl of about 11 years old being violated by an erect adult male.
Spouses often remain mum about their partner's nefarious activities, but this lady notified investigators at the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD). According to court records, deputies later questioned Paine, who admitted to viewing "some girl stuff . . . a couple of sexy ones . . . bestiality . . . I have always had a thing, I don't know, about how anybody could do that, a woman especially, you know." But when the officers confronted him about consuming child porn, Paine refused to concede the point. "As far as I know, [the websites] say [the females] are all 18 or above."
It's not clear why deputies didn't arrest Paine, but a long nightmare subsequently began for area librarians. On numerous occasions, they or startled patrons would walk by and see graphic, hardcore sex videos or what appeared to be child pornography on his computer screen. Stern lectures from the offended might end a day's risqué Internet cruising for Paine. Then, days or weeks later, as if daring the criminal-justice system to target him, he'd return to those libraries and resume his sick hobby.
The Paine case—more on its disturbing conclusion in a moment—is one of three April criminal matters inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in which the lure of child pornography proved insatiable to men despite harsh consequences: A judge publicly labels you a sex offender. Neighbors don't wave hello anymore. Employers decide you need a new job. Police won't let you enjoy a public park, and while you're paying for the crime in prison, inmates prone to violence consider you on par with a cockroach. Murderers are afforded more respect.
This dismal future awaits longtime Disneyland employee Kile Golder, who has directed no-budget, alternative short films for broadcasts of The Darkest Hours, a self-styled "campy, kooky" satire on social norms in Southern California. In 2012, federal agents arrested the Huntington Beach man, who otherwise lived his life crime-free, for collecting more than 2,250 child-porn pictures and 1,500 child-porn videos. Undercover police investigators monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing programs on the Internet reported the 31-year-old was a frequent participant in trading lewd material with other collectors.
During an interrogation, Golder—who reportedly doesn't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes—admitted the thought of sexual contact with a child aroused him, a sentiment that helps to explain some of the recovered images. He'd secretly filmed a neighbor's middle-school-aged boys playing in their pool and urinating outside. According to a Department of Justice report, Golder's collection also included photographs of men anally penetrating "babies and toddlers," as well as one picture of a rope-bound, nude, prepubescent boy. A large stick had been shoved into the child's anus.
Brandon Thurman, this month's third child-porn offender, lost a Vons grocery-store job following his 2012 arrest. For years, Thurman, a regular church volunteer, used the Internet-chat-room moniker "Happy One" to collect explicit images of children engaged in sex. One of his alleged suppliers used the name "DemonDaddy."
Thurman, 29, is also tied to Disneyland. In the summer of 2008, he and a group of fellow child-pornography collectors from around the nation met for some version of fun at the internationally famous, family amusement park, according to a law-enforcement report. During a 2009 raid, officers found Thurman in possession of 20 illegal images. But the true size of his collection may have been enormous. Before agents could secure evidence, Thurman, hailed as a delightful, God-fearing son by his mother, destroyed numerous compact discs and two computer hard drives.
While Golder and Thurman operated in private, Paine performed his lewd endeavors at public libraries because a 2004 child-porn-possession conviction required government monitoring of his home computers. (During that investigation, he admitted to cops that he enjoyed images of girls as young as 5 years old engaged in oral sex.) His previously mentioned 2010 contact with sheriff's deputies hadn't been a deterrent either.
Thirteen months later, a weary staffer at the Aliso Viejo Public Library saw a heavyset man wearing a white polo shirt and green shorts who was eager to enter as soon as she unlocked the doors at 10 a.m. on Nov. 30, 2011. The librarian watched Paine walk directly to public computer station No. 16 and type Internet search commands for such terms as "gay young black boy," "Russian young girls," "underage" and "preteen pussy." To view the results—many allegedly on Dizzyporn.com—he opened multiple browser windows, viewable by anybody nearby. In fact, the librarian called deputies while Paine—who forced an 8-year-old girl to fondle him in the early 1980s—gaped at an image of an adult male performing oral sex on a girl who appeared to be 13 years old, according to an OCSD investigative report. An arriving deputy confronted him, secured the computer for forensic analysis and asked why he watched porn in a library. Paine answered, "Because it's available."
Three federal judges in Orange County punished Paine, Thurman and Golder, and none was lenient. Judge David O. Carter sentenced Thurman—who used his mother's declining health for sympathy—to a term of 60 months in federal prison, plus 20 years of supervised probation. Judge Josephine Staton Tucker handed Golder—who also used his mother's declining health for sympathy—a term of 78 months, plus 10 years of probation. But Judge Cormac J. Carney doled out the most severe punishment: The 69-year-old Paine won a 120-month trip to prison. After he emerges back into society as he prepares to turn 80, he will spend the rest of his life forced to submit to potential, round-the-clock, warrantless inspections by federal agents.
Doomsday hasn't yet arrived for Golder and Thurman; they've been ordered to self-surrender to the U.S. Marshal for imprisonment on, respectively, May 3 and May 10. Paine, who requires an electronic-breathing apparatus, is presently housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.