originally posted 9/23/2009
Joshua was born to his US citizen parents January 12, 1987 on the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. He spent the first few months of his life on the nearby island of Montserrat in the British West Indies where his father, a physician, was associated with the island’s medical school. The next few years of his young life were spent in London, England where his father was undertaking additional clinical training. Finally in 1994 he settled in North Carolina.
He grew-up a gentle, happy, curious, very bright child. He loves animals and always had a home overfilled with pets. An avid swimmer, he was by age 11 a certified scuba diver and pursued the sport with great enthusiasm.
Joshua shares his parent’s passion for travel. By age 17 he had literally been around the world and visited well over twenty nations on six continents. His deep desire to learn about the peoples and cultures he has visited is remarkable as is his compassion for those he saw and came to know less fortunate than he. Joshua truly has the mindset of a global citizen.
He is a child of the computer age having first been introduced to them at age 2 and by age 3 had his first computer. As each new generation of computer was released he received one. He had virtually unlimited computer and later internet access throughout his childhood and adolescence. Near totally oblivious to the tremendous risks this new technology presented, his parents provided little computer supervision and even fewer computer safeguards. The stage for disaster was set.
At age 10 Joshua stumbled across internet pornography and sadly he joined the rapidly growing ranks of countless other internet pornography viewing child victims. By his early teens he began viewing peer pornography that is viewing adolescents of his own age. In doing so he was progressively sucked deeper into the cesspool of what is to mature adults, child pornography.
(Editor’s note: As the parents are over-critical of what they perceive to be their own failure to prevent Joshua from accessing pornography, I have removed some sentences here and will expand on the reason below.)
As much or all of the obscene internet material made available to Joshua was in violation of federal statues, so too did federal law enforcement agencies very grossly fail in their sworn duty to protect him from these illegal materials.
In June, 2005, having completed his entire primary and secondary education without ever so much as a trip to the principle’s office, Joshua graduated from high school. In spite of his dyslexia he graduated with honors as a member of both the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society. Having been accepted at Appalachian State University a very bright, productive future was immediately before him.
Shockingly, later, the week of his graduation, federal and state law enforcement agents arrived at Joshua’s home to execute a search warrant. The entire evidence basis for that warrant was solely an event which occurred while Joshua was still a juvenile yet law enforcement waited until after he had turned age 18 to act on it.
Following execution of the search warrant Joshua and his family remained in a hellish limbo for nearly one-and-a-half years. During this time the US Department of Justice analyzed his computers, found they did in fact contain contraband materials and apparently groped for a decision as to whether the matter did or did not merit prosecution.
During this period on the recommendation of legal counsel, Joshua entered one of the world’s leading centers for the evaluation and treatment of sexual addictions and compulsivity. At age 18 he was the youngest person ever to enter that facility. Following a six week stay he was discharged with a primary diagnosis of depression, no surprise given the uncertainly he was facing at the hands of the US Department of Justice. During his stay there a diagnosis of pedophilia was clearly excluded.
Following his discharge he commenced his studies at Appalachian State University where he remained until his imprisonment. While pursing a triple major he maintained a grade point average above 3.0 while again facing the uncertainly of his future.
Finally the one-and-a-half year limbo came to an end when the US Department of Justice announced its intent to prosecute Joshua. His world and that of his family came crashing down. The case was assigned to a rather callous Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) who pursued Joshua without conscience or mercy.
The Assistant US Attorney refused to directly meet with Joshua and his parents along with their legal counsel having no apparent interest whatsoever in hearing their side of the matter. Numerous letters were submitted on Joshua’s behalf. Amongst those writing was his pastor with who of his own incentive Joshua had commenced regular, on-going counseling sessions even before the search warrant was originally executed. His highly qualified clinical psychologist with whom Joshua had regular therapy sessions since his treatment facility discharge. That letter again clearly excluded the diagnosis of pedophilia. Other letters from outstanding civic and community leaders who knew both Joshua and his family well were submitted in his support. All were meaningless, the mindless prosecution progressed.
Finally nearly three-and-a-half years after the original search warrant was executed Joshua finally appeared before the Court. During that interval his conduct and behavior had been stellar as he vigorously pursued his education, was fully compliant with all therapy recommendations and also restrictions on him previously placed by the US Department of Justice.
From the outset it appeared the appointed for life Federal District Judge hearing the matter was at best disinterested. The Assistant US Attorney recommended the Court sentence Joshua to 10 years in Federal Prison.
Joshua’s defense team and the witnesses they called presented an extraordinarily compelling argument for Joshua to be granted probation and not compelled to serve time in prison.
Joshua’s testifying witnesses were;
1. Both of his parents who made an impassioned plea for his freedom and future.
2. Rev. John Padgett who affirmed Joshua’s active, committed participation in nearly 4 years of Pastoral Counseling along with his belief in Joshua’s desire and ability to function as a caring, useful person in society.
3. Dr. Ron Hood, Joshua’s Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Hood testified to Joshua’s complete compliance with nearly three-and-a-half years of regular out-patient therapy. He further testified to the exclusion of pedophilia as a diagnosis, the very low probability of Joshua ever again engaging in such inappropriate behavior and the fact that imprisonment was totally inappropriate in this matter.
4. Dr. Craig Ausmus, a family friend who has known Joshua since birth. Dr. Ausmus testified to Joshua’s good character. Further, as a former Medical Officer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons he testified to the tremendous risk of physical, emotional and psychological injury this young man who never once in this life had raised his hand in anger to another human being would likely be subjected to if imprisoned.
5. Col. Sharon Cooper, MD, USA (Ret) presented the most scholarly, eloquent and compelling testimony. A forensic pediatrician, Dr. Cooper is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina College of Medicine at Chapel Hill and an instructor at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on internet sexual exploitation of children and author of the definitive textbook on sexual exploitation of children. Her involvement in Joshua’s case marked the very first instance in which she testified as a defense witness in a ‘sex offender’ case having on numerous previous occasions testified for the prosecution and as an expert witness before the US Congress regarding internet child sexual victimization legislation. Dr. Cooper testified to the growing prevalence of children and adolescences viewing adult internet pornography and progressing to internet child pornography. She described such actions as child or adolescent sexual exploration as opposed to the sexual exploitation which occurs when mature adults view such materials. She went on to describe the excellent psychological care Joshua had received prior to coming before the Court and the low probability of him ever engaging in such inappropriate behavior in the future. She closed in strongly recommending against Joshua’s imprisonment and described his potential usefulness in the free world educating other children and parents on the dangers of internet pornography.
Following Dr. Cooper’s testimony, closing arguments were presented. It appeared that at some point in the proceeding the Assistant US Attorney had a moment of enlightenment and recognition of the injustice she was attempting to impose on Joshua. In closing she altered her opening recommendation of 10 years imprisonment to a closing recommendation of only 24 months imprisonment.
Unfortunately for Joshua and all those who know and love him her enlightenment occurred too late. It seemed the judge either heard not or cared not about her revised sentencing recommendation and defense testimony immediately sentencing Joshua to 8 years imprisonment.
An obscene perversion of justice had been completed. The same federal justice system that had so grossly failed in their sworn duty to protect him when as a child and adolescence he had access to these illegal internet materials had now succeeded in his destruction.
Since Joshua’s sentencing, a search of similar cases across the US reveals that numerous individuals, all but one of them grown, mature, adult men have recently faced the exact same charge as Joshua. Each and every one was sentenced to some form of probation and none to imprisonment. Additionally a 65 year NASA scientist was arrested for accessing child pornography on a NASA computer. This Physics PhD was allowed to plea guilty to the simple charge of misusing a government computer and given probation. Insult added to injustice.
Joshua reported to federal prison on July 1, 2009. A lamb led to slaughter to be locked away for the next 8 years of his young life in a cage like an animal with real animals.
FURTHER UPDATE FROM DR. SHIELDS
I just finished another weekend visit with Josh. Once again my heart broke, my gut cried out in pain. Anyone that may doubt he is anything other than a naive kid need only witness the continued faith he has in ‘the system’ to recognize the gross injustice they have imposed on him
and to correct it. He has 100% faith, I have 0% faith this will occur.
Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine that one day my son could be the ‘poster child’ for the dangers of internet pornography and the evil of the US ‘justice’ system and I the spokesperson but that is the sad reality. He is of course the perfect poster child; affluent upbringing, past record clean as a whistle, honor student, brilliant future awaiting him, a gross perversion of justice imposed on him, no future risk to society except in the twisted mind of self-righteous, hysterical, paranoid morons, etc and I the perfect spokesman; very articulate, passionate motivation, ‘respected physician’, ‘outstanding member of the community’ etc.
Hence to save Josh and other future kids I am ready to assume that role. If you are now or may in the future be aware of any persons, groups, civic organizations, especially media outlets that may have interest in better understanding and/or supporting our cause I am at all times available to be that ‘upfront spokesperson’. Please feel free to put them in contact with me via e-mail, phone, etc.