Kevin Alfred Strom today
Kevin Alfred Strom's
Address to the Court
Kevin Alfred Strom is absolutely innocent of any crime against children or anyone else. He has paid a heavy price for his advocacy of self-determination for his people.
Given at Federal District Court, Charlottesville, Virginia on April 21, 2008; with annotations
April 21, 2008
by Kevin Alfred Strom
MY NAME is Kevin Alfred Strom. I have been in solitary confinement for sixteen months. Circumstances and strategic considerations have kept me silent until now. But I have sworn to tell the whole truth, so I ask the court to grant me now perhaps one minute for every month I have been imprisoned.
All along I’ve told the truth to everyone — investigators, family members, this court, my closest friends — about this case, even when that truth was embarrassing to me or easily misconstrued to be used against me.
Let me tell you a little about my background. For some 20 years, I worked as a broadcast engineer. For three years, until I moved to Virginia in 2001, I was the local chapter leader of the Family Support Network, a parenting group. I’m a writer, a publisher, an editor, a broadcaster — and an activist for social change who’s taken on some powerful interest groups, armed only with a microphone and a pen. But more than anything else, I’m a father.
The greatest title of honor I’ve ever been given is “Daddy.”
My son Oliver 1 is fifteen, an honor student just embarking on his high school years and all the changes that implies.
My daughter Vita is eleven, also an honor student and getting set to graduate to middle school.
My younger son Alfred is thirteen and severely autistic. He has made some progress at a special school for autistic children, but in many ways he lives in his own inner world. Victims of autism have trouble relating to people, but often get very attached to one person in their lives. In Alfred’s case, that person is me.
Some years ago, I lived in Virginia while my ex-wife, the children’s mother, lived in Minnesota. I had to bear all the driving duties and all the costs to maintain my parenting time under joint custody. My parenting time was split into four periods every year.
My children and I
I drove 1,250 miles to pick up the children, another 1,250 miles back home for my time with them, another 1,250 miles to drop them off, and then 1,250 miles back home again. And that’s for one trip. Depending on school or other schedules, sometimes the driving time was longer than the time at home with them. I was making that trip between here and Minnesota sixteen times a year. I did that for six years. It was worth every bit of effort. I love my children more than my own soul.
Your honor, I am not a pedophile. I am the farthest thing imaginable from a sexual pervert of any kind. I am in fact the precise opposite of the way I have been characterized in this case. And I have never sought out, purchased, enjoyed, or wanted child pornography of any kind.
Those who would in reality or fantasy violate the innocence of a child disgust me. They are monsters, aberrations, contra naturam, from whom the innocent need to be protected.
I am not a hateful person, your honor, but I do revile the foul deeds of pedophiles and child pornographers. In my public and private life I have exposed and condemned them, and opposed the “normalization” of pedophilia now being pushed in some psychological circles.
Sex and Love
I regard human sexuality not as a casual pleasure, nor as something dirty, but rather as something sacred, something holy. It is the means by which new souls are brought into the universe. This love of our hearts and our bodies connects us to — actually physically connects us to — the mysterious beginnings of all life, and to our as yet unknown destiny. It is not to be spoken of lightly.
To me, sex, love, and family form a kind of natural trinity which ought never to be sundered. I have long instinctively felt this way.
I believe in love. In my sexual life, I have been what one of my friends calls “an absolute straight arrow.” In high school, some called me a “Puritan” because I refused to participate in the alcohol, recreational drugs, and recreational sex which were and are so common. And I’ve remained true to my principles.
When the fates have blessed me with a sweetheart, I have always been faithful to her, always and absolutely. I have loved imperfectly and made innumerable mistakes, but I have loved with all my heart. And the number of sweethearts I have had in 51 years of life can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Art and Beauty
Your honor, before it was all taken from me, my home was filled with fine art: reproductions of the paintings of Maxfield Parrish, John William Waterhouse, William Bouguereau; the sculptures of Rodin, Houdon, St. Gaudens, Hiram Powers; and many others. I’m also a photographer and a graphic artist myself in my role as editor. And I operate a highly regarded online art gallery.
Cupid and Psyche — an example of the art collected and displayed by Kevin Alfred Strom
I believe one of the greatest purposes of high art is to depict the human form as an ideal of beauty and nobility. I believe that one of the greatest tragedies of modern art is that it has abandoned the Classical reverence for our natural form which, our ancestors believed and so do I, partakes of the Divine.
I believe that whenever the human body is portrayed, that portrayal should embody respect, nobility, beauty, and dignity — never crudity, lasciviousness, or degradation; even, or perhaps especially, when the erotic is part of that portrayal.
I do not like pornography. When in my life I have sought out the erotic, I have never sought the gross, the crude, the pornographic.
I’d like to live in a society in which no one wanted pornography of any kind. And I firmly believe that a revival of the Classical nude in art, in the exquisite tradition that culminated near the end of the 19th century, would go a very long way toward making all kinds of pornography disappear.
How then did I come here before you?
The Erotic and the Pornographic
Now, I have enjoyed erotic — but not pornographic — photography depicting beautiful young women. And my imprecisely-chosen words and speculations 2 about those pictures have been used against me. But the erotic photographs I actually sought out, on sites like BodyInMind.com, have nothing to do with these charges — except to the extent that my honest discussion of enjoying pictures of “beautiful young girls” (all of them on sites where the models are certified to be over eighteen) and words to that effect have been edited and twisted beyond recognition in order to incriminate me.
In the presentencing report you will note that the number of images involved in this “crime” is fewer than ten. I was not even allowed to see these images, and then only briefly, until I was escorted to the FBI evidence room on August 22, 2007, in the eighth month of my imprisonment. At that time I and my lead attorney were able to view the files along with their associated metadata, showing size, date of last modification, and source, among other things. 3 Some of them are on my hard drive as a result of my actions and some are not. They break down as follows:
Only one of the charged files is even saved to the hard drive. All the others were deleted or never saved and no one (except a forensic investigator) could ever view them.
That one saved file was not saved by me. It was saved on a portion of the hard drive reserved for backups made automatically of my wife Elisha’s computer, and the file’s metadata confirm that it was in fact downloaded originally by her.
More than half of the remaining charged files have “last modified” dates after July 14, 2006 — the day I left my home to save my life and my children’s lives from Elisha’s violence. I never had access to that computer again after that date. I do not know exactly what was done to download or alter those files after that July 14, but one thing is sure: whoever did so was not I. 4
By studying the metadata, I was able to determine that I was responsible for the presence of the tiny number of remaining files. Their source data shows that they came from an online forum I remember visiting several years ago. It’s a photography forum devoted to beautiful portraits, having nothing to do with sex or even nudity. Many wonderful, creative photos have been posted there. In fact, the rules of the forum prohibit the posting of any kind of pornography there. But, practically speaking, anyone can post anything there — and it will stay there until a moderator gets around to removing it.
The last time I visited the forum it was flooded with spam promoting commercial pornography sites, with “sample” images some of which showed models that were children. Though the spammers used various tricks to evade the letter of the law (by blurring out genitals, for example), these pictures nevertheless were by turns sleazy, disgusting, and tragic. After seeing the first few images of the many in the group, I deleted them all, mostly sight unseen. Every image, of course, even the ones I never saw, left its trace on the hard drive. I never returned to the forum again. These files I “possessed” I possessed unwillingly.
Faith in God - an example of the art collected and displayed by Kevin Alfred Strom Faith in God — an example of the art collected and displayed by Kevin Alfred Strom
Wanted and Unwanted; Beauty and Ugliness
To get a realistic picture of this affair, you must also comprehend the scale involved. I am a heavy user of computer images, both professionally and personally. There are more than 40,000 image files on my computer related to my journalism work alone. There are tens of thousands of family and Nature photographs — it’s nothing for me to take 100 in a single day — and thousands of fine art scans and images, book illustrations, and much more. I would estimate that the number of image files on that computer at more than 100,000; so many that I had to add several additional hard drives to the system.
Clearly, your honor, I know how to seek out, collect, and save huge numbers of the images I’m really interested in.
Our lawmakers included something called the Affirmative Defense in the child pornography statutes. It states that if the files in question are deleted, and there are three or fewer, there can be no prosecution. 5 It’s designed to protect inadvertent possessors from prosecution, prison time, and the false characterization of being labeled a “sex offender” for life. But prosecutors, even in the flimsiest cases, can just inflate the number of charged files to over three even if the files don’t meet the criteria, and thereby evade the intent of the Affirmative Defense. And in these days of high speed Internet connections and Web sites that commonly have 50 or hundreds of images on their opening pages, each of which leaves its traces on your hard drive instantly, before it is even seen — and even if it isn’t seen — I venture to suggest that the Affirmative Defense no longer applies to anyone, even the most inadvertent. Its intent was, clearly, to apply in cases precisely like this one.
The Essential Element in the Case
In my work as a writer and publisher, I have taken on controversial issues — foreign adventurism by the Bush administration, abuse of the fundamental rights of European-Americans, and many more — and made powerful enemies in high places. I have been a strong critic of the loss of our liberties and the rise of the security/surveillance state since 9/11.
In particular, I have published and written dozens of exposés of the illegitimate and politically-motivated acts of the so-called “Joint Terrorism Task Force,” or JTTF, now operating within the U.S. Justice Department.
In early 2004, in my role as journalist, I was covering a court hearing in Atlanta in which the JTTF was involved in persecuting an innocent patriot named Chester Doles. After the hearing I was approached by JTTF Special Agent Joe Thompson, who, interestingly, knew me though I did not know him. Thompson threatened me, saying loudly enough for the entire room to hear (and pointing directly at me): “Strom, you’re next!” 6
The JTTF even intervened in an attempt — successful, so far — to prevent me from getting redress in the Greene County courts for the theft of virtually all of my possessions by my wife Elisha and for her violent attacks upon me.
When this case began, who was it who raided my home with a SWAT-like team of armored thugs and terrorized my family? Was it the FBI’s Crimes Against Children unit? — or another agency devoted to protecting children? No indeed. It was the Joint Terrorism Task Force.7
Who was it at the prosecution table, trying to falsely convict me of child sexual abuse and witness tampering when I was totally innocent — when in fact the charges were so ludicrous they were thrown out of court? And who is sitting at the prosecution table today? None other than an agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
A small corner of my home in 1999, before I met Elisha, showing a tiny sample of the possessions taken
Attempted Destruction of a Life
When I left my home to protect myself from my wife’s anger and violence, I took with me only what I could carry under my arms. Elisha refused to allow me to retrieve any of my possessions. She sold them openly, then incinerated what she didn’t keep in a bonfire that burned for two days. I lost everything I owned; a lifetime of books, art, heirlooms, clothes, radio equipment, letters, personal records, mementos, and even my children’s possessions.
In November 2006 I went to the courts in Greene County to obtain redress for that unprecedented theft and for the violence committed against me. But I was prevented from pursuing my cases and in fact found myself charged with serious crimes 8 for doing so. Who was it who showed up at the Greene County courthouse, literally arm-in-arm with Elisha, illegitimately crossing the bar and whispering secretly to the judge and Commonwealth’s Attorney? An agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
A small part of the radio/studio equipment stolen from me
My troubled and estranged wife Elisha has committed many acts of violence against me. I was an abused spouse. She has threatened to kill me, and I have documentation 9 of those threats. She has used threats and coercion to force me to give her money and property and to sign documents under duress. She is both dangerous and delusional.
She has accused me of having sexual liaisons with my ex-wife, with professional colleagues, with correspondents from halfway across the continent whom I’ve never met, with two teenage musicians whose work I’ve promoted, with my stepdaughter, with my stepdaughter’s friends, with cashiers at the local grocery store, with neighbors — I literally cannot remember them all. My denials engendered more accusations, more anger, more violence. At Elisha’s hands I’ve suffered innumerable bruises, cuts, including a laceration that sent me to the hospital to get eight stitches, and permanent damage to my vision. My ill-advised attempts to placate and appease her 10 made things even worse.
Report certifying that I am not a pedophile
(Please double click on the report image to see enlarged print)
Let me state for your honor and the record that I have never touched Elisha or any other person in anger in my entire adult life; and let me further state that my behavior and intentions toward all of these girls and women was absolutely proper at all times.
When I finally stopped acceding to Elisha’s demands for submission, money, and property, she followed through on her threats to make her false allegations public in order to, as she put it, “ruin” me. She told me again and again that, unless I gave her large sums of money, paid for thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic and augmentation surgery for her, and gave her my property including a quitclaim deed to the house — that unless I did what she demanded I would never work in my chosen field again, and that I would be permanently separated from my beloved children, saying of them explicitly “When I get through with you, you’ll never see those f—-ing brats again.”
The Children Spoke the Truth
My stepdaughter and a friend of hers were interviewed by child welfare authorities as a result of Elisha’s false claims, and despite whatever pressures there may have been, they told the truth. I was cleared. Though totally cleared by the local authorities, I still found myself falsely charged and accused by prosecutors and the JTTF with “sexual enticement of a minor,” charges which could have put me in prison for the rest of my natural life, and yet charges so absurd 11 that I made history in this very courtroom when, for the first time in this district, federal charges were thrown out as nonsense on their very face without the defense having to utter a word. The preposterous “witness tampering” charges were also thrown out at the same time.
Violence and Threats
Even after my arrest, Elisha’s violence and threats continued. I continue to fear for my family and myself. Elisha has been leafleting the neighborhoods where my stepfather and family live and work, making lurid and false, yet alarming statements about me — including accusing me of the crimes of which I have been acquitted — which could seriously impact the lives of my family members.
Last May 9th Elisha lashed out with gunfire in a road rage incident, discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood — a crime. Yet the JTTF came to the rescue, falsely characterizing Elisha as the “victim” in the “witness tampering” case against me, and seizing jurisdiction from the local authorities 12 so the government’s star perjurer would not be prosecuted — as she most certainly would have been otherwise.
Just a few weeks ago, Elisha openly and publicly called for my death in an interview she gave to the press right outside the doors of this courtroom.
A Most Telling Fact
And let me clarify one thing, your honor; a very important thing. Elisha, no matter what her jealousies and hatreds may be, knows I am not a pedophile. Just two weeks after the day she claims she confronted me on that issue, October 17, 2005 — the date which figured in my trial and the date her violence sent me to the hospital — Elisha allowed me to take her nine-year-old daughter, by myself and with no other adult present, to pick up my autistic son and take them on a three-day trip to the beach for my son’s eleventh birthday.
And she also allowed me to take her daughter, my stepdaughter, to school and shopping on dozens of unaccompanied trips between that October 17 and the day I fled our home nine months later.
A picture I made for my daughter while in solitary confinement
Your honor, I know that judges have great powers to order dispositions of their cases, and that power has increased of late. Powers may exist which have seldom or never been exercised, and even where there is no power to order, the ability to recommend still exists.
I genuinely fear that Elisha, or those she may incite, may harm me or my family. Please take steps so that such persons may not obtain my street address from any publicly available database. I am not a sex offender in any meaningful sense of that term, nor a felon.
Please order or recommend that upon my release there be no restrictions placed upon me regarding travel with my children or attendance at their classes or school or other events. 13
My son and I on a hike in the mountains
Please make my family whole again as soon as possible. In considering my fate, please also consider the fate of the real victims in this case:
My 77-year-old mother and my stepfather who are taking care of my children in my absence; they have been a hero and heroine beyond my capacity to thank them.
My son Oliver, strong and stoic at 15, but also shy and sensitive, who chokes up from the pain sometimes.
My daughter Vita, who is eleven and at the stage of life when she needs her Daddy most. She is so bright, so open-hearted, so innocent, so vulnerable. She does science projects and learns elementary Latin — but still sleeps with a teddy bear. She cries for her Daddy, and I keep telling her I’ll be home as soon as I can.
My autistic son Alfred, who doesn’t understand — isn’t capable of understanding — what has happened to his Dad. He only knows that he hasn’t seen me for a very, very long time. Let me quote from his latest school reports: “His irritability and impatience typically lead to tantrums accompanied by property destruction, self-abuse, and aggression. He seems remorseful once he has calmed down, often crying for his father and repeatedly saying ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I’m sad.’ There has been an increase in elopement. He often runs to the van 14 and on occasion has put the van in gear. He frequently requests to look at pictures of his father and hear ‘Daddy’s letters.’ …Alfred perseverates about his father daily. 15 He calls out for ‘Daddy’ and asks to call Daddy on the phone. He often reassures himself ‘You’ll see your Daddy again.’ At times he will tantrum and engage in self-abuse.”
Your honor, I know I have spoken longer than is usual in such cases — but this case is anything but usual. I believe that I have now fulfilled my oath to tell the whole truth. I deeply appreciate your listening. Thank you.
* * * * *
The judge expressed himself after my statement, indicating that based on the reports he had read, including the interviews with my stepdaughter and her friend, that he would have preferred me to have pled Not Guilty to all charges. As a loving father, I could not do that: The prosecutor “piled on” charges — six counts for one alleged violation of law. I would have had to be acquitted six times in a row to go home to my children — and the government could lose four or five times in a row and still succeed in imprisoning me for decades if one or two counts “stuck” as they could easily do in a politically- and emotionally-charged case like this one, whatever the facts. The ability to “pile on” charges for one alleged offense is, in my opinion, a crime itself. It gives the government the near-absolute power to intimidate innocent people — especially innocent people with children they love — into pleading guilty to one or two counts. I chose to return to my children this summer instead of decades after they were grown, if ever. That’s the choice I had to make, and I made it.
The judge could have sentenced me to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. I was released about four months after my hearing, close to the minimum sentence within his discretion. No fine was imposed.
The time for truth-telling has come, and the world will be hearing from me again.
* * * * *
Further information on this case can be found in the ‘About’ section of this Web site.
1 All minors named here have been given alternate names to protect their identities.
2 Speculations encouraged by cynical JTTF interrogators and a vengeful ex-spouse who surreptitiously recorded a marriage counseling session, both of whom later edited the recordings to remove the relevant context.
3 Except for one file downloaded and saved by my wife, which was an artistic photograph of a young woman wearing an angel costume which by no stretch of the imagination could be called pornographic, I had never seen any of these images before that date. They had all been deleted by me unseen when a picture forum was spammed, or were just unwanted and never-saved garbage from popup ads or spam, and were “recovered” by FBI/JTTF technicians.
4 It’s worth noting that only two or three of the charged files are in fact child pornography, and many are not even pornography at all. One was obviously a banner ad for an adult porn site, disgusting but not illegal, which prosecutors doubtlessly included because of the revolting and lurid text (“Teen Rape!”) plastered across the ad, which they falsely characterized as the “file name” in the indictment. The real file name was numeric and would not have made the desired impression on the public or the members of the grand jury.
5 There are many cases on the record in which prosecutors refused to prosecute even when thousands of the most horrifying and abusive pornographic images of children were found on someone’s computer — refused for the simple and quite valid reason that the person in question did not have exclusive access to said computer. I never had exclusive access to the computer in question in my case, and had no access whatever to it after July 14, 2006. I leave it to the reader to decide why I was treated differently.
6 The article I wrote at the time is widely available on the Internet (such as at http://tinyurl.com/strom-jttf) and includes a description of the threat by Thompson. It was published more than two years before my current case began.
7 It is worthwhile to consider that, according to FBI spokesmen quoted recently in USA Today and the Washington Post (see USA Today 7 Feb 2008 "Computers linked to child pornography" http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-02-07-child-porn-computers_n.htm and USA Today 16 April 2008 "Software tracks child porn traffickers online" http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-04-15-childporn-side_n.htm), there are more than 624,000 active traders and producers of child pornography in the United States who have been conclusively identified by their Internet addresses and IDs — more than 17,000 are in Virginia alone. And these figures are based on a study of only one of the many file-sharing networks in use today. If cases reaching the press are any indication, these are largely people with thousands or tens of thousands of the most horrifying images imaginable, many of which graphically depict violent abuse of little children, even toddlers and infants. One investigator stated he had to go to counseling after seeing some of these pictures. Law enforcement spokesmen state that they only have the resources to go after a minuscule percentage of such criminals, so they have to concentrate their efforts and only prosecute the very worst offenders. Arnold Bell, head of the FBI’s Innocent Images Unit, said to USA Today: “There aren’t enough cops in the world to pursue every lead, so the FBI focuses on cases in which kids may be located and rescued.” It does appear that a very different set of standards was applied by the JTTF in this case.
8 For the “crimes” of filing a lawsuit demanding return of my property, and for talking with a local magistrate about Elisha’s violent attacks on me, I found myself facing federal charges of “witness tampering” and “obstruction of justice” which alone could have netted me 20 years in prison.
9 For one example, see documentation of her clearly audible physical aggression, anger, and threats toward me captured when she attacked me during a recording session for my radio program in 2006, downloadable at http://documents.iqradio.org/. The source of her rage in this case was my suggestion that she seek additional help for her anger problem.
10 Including agreeing in writing to see a counselor, an act which has been wildly misinterpreted by the press and others: Though still trying to placate Elisha and prevent her from carrying out her violent and other threats, I changed the wording of the document she demanded I sign to make it clear that I was not admitting to pedophilia or anything of the sort. The counselor was one I was already seeing in order to deal with the horrific situation I found myself in — and I, not being a pedophile, knew that the counselor would if he was honest declare me free of that perversion, as he in fact has done. I am probably the only man within a hundred of miles of Charlottesville who has been officially declared not to be a pedophile. A copy of the counselor’s letter is also available at http://documents.iqradio.org/.
11 The “enticement” included such “criminal” acts as 1) attending the same county fair as a young family friend (though making no contact and totally unaware of the other’s presence), 2) “being seen” driving on a road a half mile from the friend’s home, 3) sending a totally non-sexual and non-romantic birthday card to the family friend, 4) sending a DVD of a G-rated film to the friend’s entire family as a Christmas present (after receiving presents from them earlier), and 5) holding an umbrella for her in a driving rainstorm.
12 Copies of the police reports on this incident are also available at http://documents.iqradio.org/.
13 The judge did so order.
14 I have a van also, which Alfred loves to ride in.
15 476 days so far.