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How Many False Child Porn Charges Are There?

Some time in late spring 2000, I was sitting at the kitchen table grading papers when the landline phone rang.

When I answered, a masculine voice said, “Do you know Alan Rodgers?”

“Yes,” I said. “We live together. We’re engaged.”

“Do you know where he is right now?”

It was about 10:00 a.m. “He’s at work,” I said. Alan, a former NY Times bestselling author and editor of Twilight Zone Magazine, was working as a computer technician during the day to pay his child support and attorney bills.

“I’m Agent — — and I’m with the Los Angeles Bureau. Does your fiance look at porn?”

“Y-you mean like Playboy?” I said. “Yes — sure.”

“Are you willing to help us with something?”

“Y-yes,” I said. I probably wouldn’t say yes now but that was 20 years ago, pre-Comey, pre-McCabe, pre-Strozk, pre-Wikileaks.

The agent asked me about Alan’s computers, of which there were several. He instructed me to go upstairs to Alan’s work computer and gave me a series of commands that started a DOS program. He asked me to type various things — at the time I was much less knowledgeable about computers. I just did as he asked.

Soon I realized he was asking for file names. For zipped files. For archives.

“What has he done?” I asked.

“He’s being questioned at his work,” the agent said. “Someone mailed a package to his work with photographs of child pornography.”

The investigation was called “Candyman,” the agent said. It was a very large operation. International.

That’s Comey, isn’t it? This is from 2002.

The agent was really nice. I told him Alan was a very devoted father and I doubted he would be interested in any child porn in any way. He had grown up in an abusive home and had even spent time in a foster home.

“I just can’t see him hurting kids or being around that,” I said.

It turned out that the envelope of child porn images hadn’t been addressed specifically to Alan but instead to “A.R.” at the business address. It was delivered to “Accounts Receivable,” and when the employees opened it all of these horrible images fell out.

There were three employees with the initials “A.R.” and Alan was among the three. All were being questioned.

“Don’t worry, ma’am, he’s answered all our questions to our satisfaction,” the agent said. “We don’t need to investigate further.”

“I know he didn’t do anything like that,” I said.

Then I told the agent about Alan’s divorce. In 1996, Alan’s wife left him while he was at work at a $10/hr. factory job where he was working to support the family. They had three children and his youngest son was just a baby.

Alan tearfully described that day. He had returned home to see his home destroyed, possessions scattered all over the floor and the hard drives removed from the computers.

A note in the kitchen said “I’ve left — don’t do anything stupid.”

Alan’s ex- didn’t do this all by herself. A man Alan described as his “best friend” had driven to their residence in Eugene, OR in a U-Haul and facilitated the event.

Alan did not know the whereabouts of his children for about 6 weeks after that. He didn’t even know his ex- was with his former best friend. Calling dozens of people, he received no information until finally, someone disclosed where the family was located. It turned out to be the first of dozens of parental kidnappings. Alan’s divorce consumed most of the early online discussion boards for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror “professionals” for a long time. Much of it took place before I even met him.

So, I briefly described the current status of Alan’s divorce (bad) and a recent horrible event that had occurred — Alan’s ex- and her husband had shown up at the crack of dawn on his middle daughter’s birthday over a recent holiday weekend and demanded to take her from her bed. When they came to the door his ex- was holding her 4 month-old baby and the husband tried to shove his way in the house past me. I shut the door in his face and slammed the deadlock home. Then I ran out the back through the orange grove with my daughter and Alan’s children. They were all terrified. Terrorized.

I thought at the time: these two have been up all night, speeding.

The sheriffs had to come and escort them off the property.

Alan’s children had to be picked up and dropped off at police stations because of these two. My first interaction with the ex-’s husband was him threatening me and Alan’s middle daughter (the one they had wanted to drag out of bed with no warning at 6 AM on her birthday).

So I put all this in a nutshell for the agent and asked, “Is it possible they might have sent this stuff to Alan’s work?”

He paused a moment and said, “Yes. That happens.”

A court date was coming up …

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I never learned what the follow-up was to those pictures mailed to Alan’s work but a curious fact came out years later. The package had been mailed from Ventura County, a location where the stepfather had been working. Searching court records after the case became a thousand times worse, I found a speeding ticket for the man from Ventura County contemporaneous with the child porn incident.

Alan’s divorce was of legendary horrific proportions. His ex-wife eventually experienced one of the few adverse judgments against a mother in Los Angeles Family Court and did eventually receive a conviction for felony child kidnapping. His youngest son, a baby when his mother had left his father, eventually became a milk carton child.

Alan was an alcoholic and had — looking back — a touch of Tourettes and small blood vessel disease which affected his thinking.

But horror writers — as anyone who knows them — are basically “normal” people with a slight twist in thinking. They’re not aggressively geeky like a lot of sci-fi writers. They’re not fey like fantasy writers. Alan was not out of the norm and he had a lot of courage and persistence. Any other person would have sworn off his kids and never spoken to his ex-. There are millions of guys who are living separate lives from their kids just paying child support.

If Alan had done that, there would have been no “Candyman” child porn scare.

No Superior Court libel and slander lawsuit (it only cost me $12,000).

No multiple child kidnappings.

I wouldn’t have had to move 3 times. Maybe he and I may even have had a happy marriage as we got along fairly well other than the divorce situation.

No web page alleging Alan, me, or my daughter had murdered our son Anthony.

No hundreds of false child abuse allegations against Alan — or myself. I would never have had to face charges I’d caused my own baby’s death were it nor for the endless lies and harassment.

We used to call the guy that did all this “Mr. Moron”.

Hell yeah Mr. Moron sent that child porn.

The FBI knew how to get the stuff and knew all about it. So did Mr. Moron.

As the years and horrible incidents marched on, Alan acquired a new attorney, a wise and experienced woman from Santa Monica.

One day sitting at one of the interminable courthouse sessions, I asked her about the attorney that seemed to provide free, albeit poor, service to Mr. Moron and Alan’s ex. I had already determined he wasn’t known to most of the people at the different courthouses (Van Nuys, Stanley Mosk). The judges didn’t know him at all. He seemed to have little practice and his “office” was a postal mail order box.

“They have no money to pay him — how is he keeping this up?”

“I think they share a vice,” she said to me. Mr. Moron and the attorney.

I recalled that child porn scare — now 8 years in the past — and told her about it.

“There could be more false child porn charges brought than real ones prosecuted,” she said. “These people are like whack-a-mole.”

She was certain that Mr. Moron or the crooked attorney had put that cryptic package filled with awful pictures in the mail. Alan never would describe what he saw. He just said they were horrible and had sickened him.

I got that phone call nearly 20 years ago.

They are still framing people with false child porn charges.

From what we see now — it’s a common practice. Victims have no help and those falsely accused are victimized as the actual child pornographers go free.

I wonder if it will ever end.

According to Harlan Ellison and my grandmother, “You’ll go far Amy, because you have heart.” Author of 40 books, former exec., Nebula Award nominee, Poor.