Update: Two local men arrested in child porn sweep Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Mar 22, 2012 at 7:28 pm
Detectives from a regional Internet-crimes task force have arrested nine men, including Portola Valley resident Stephen Wolf, 64, and Menlo Park resident Charles Vela Reyes Jr., 46, on felony charges of possession of child pornography, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office reported. This is an update to a previously published story.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 22, 2012, 6:35 PM
Posted by Cut it out, a resident of another community, on Mar 23, 2012 at 7:47 am
There are three levels of criminal conduct here:
1. Possessing/looking at child porn.
2. Distributing child porn.
3. Molesting a child.
All three are against the law. In fact, #1 carries severe federal penalties of five years for a single image (under the theory that if there are no customers, #3 doesn't happen in terms of producing the films/pictures). Many federal judges have said they find this punishment too severe, but have no choice in assessing it. I agree with them, and think treatment programs are a better choice than severe prison terms.
The man in Portola Valley was not accused of #2 or #3, just #1. There is no need to pick up pitchforks about any of this. He has an unfortunate condition in which he has a dysfunctional sexual attraction. I'm sure has hasn't chosen to be sexually attracted to images of children, no more so than a gay person can choose to be straight since s/he knows intellectually that s/he would have an easier time in life, and no more so than many heterosexual men choose to pursue a plain or homely woman with a good heart rather than a sexpot because intellectually they know they'd probably be better off that way.
Posted by Therapist, a resident of the Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm
In response to Cut it Out--there is no proven treatment for pediphiles--there is no treatment that makes them change their orientation. The fact that he lives right by the 4-8 grade school in our little town is really horrifying. We have no idea if he has molested--it's not something that gets advertised. Kids in this town are used to being safe and respecting adults. I will alert Corte Madera and I hope parents in the area read this information. This is horrible.
Posted by janet, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm
"Cut it out" is warped. Pitchforks are not called for, but something should be done to ensure that the kids in the nearby school & elsewhere are not harmed. [Portion removed. Please don't assume guilt.}
Posted by Marcy Magatelli, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm
I am a firm believer that this is a generational problem, in that many of these men may have been molested themselves, as children, damaging them in ways that marginalized them from a normal maturation process. Some even rationalize that it is OK, into to deal with their own abuse. I do not say this, to defend them, but as a wake up call, to others, about how deep and insidious this problem really is.
With all that has been learned about the abuse of young boys, within the Catholic Church, in this country, just image what some of those same types of clergy could have done in countries where they were more powerful, and with less protective laws for the individual. In many poor countries, churches provide more food, clothing and aide to families than the government does. Who could afford to believe a child in those situations?
Another point of significance, in the article, is the reference that investigators acknowledge that each step, lead to the next, down a slippery slope. This can also be found to be true for pornography, in general. Men who view pornography, according to the psycologists I know, tend to need more and more, "intense" or violent images, over time, and so on. If that occurs, with a man who may also harbor misogonynstic tendences it can be a deadly "cocktail".
I once saw a great lecture on some cable channel, given by a Dr. Valentine, about the "Consumption of women" which worked back from Porn, to MTV videos, even magazine ads sexualizing women..scary!
This might be a good time for us all to talk to the young men in our lives about how not to fall prey to all of this.
Posted by A mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm
Well, if there is a Wolf family, they may need to move, as if he's found guilty, he won't be allowed to move back there, so close to a school. I hope the family doesn't become victims of vultures who try to take advantage of them during what must be a horrible time.
[Portion removed. Please don't convict someone before he is convicted.]
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm
Cut it out - how dare you compare a sexual interest in children to being gay! That's not only wrong, it's horrifying & desicable. I've flagged your comments.
We don't need pitchforks, not because he was only viewing kiddie porn, but because he got busted. We have NO idea if he's molested kids or not.
As for some of the other comments - I don't care if they were molested or not. There are MILLIONS of survivors of childhood sexual abuse who don't grow up to be molestors or commit any other kinds of abuse.
I feel for all the loved ones of those arrested - unless they've helped facilitate these crimes - we don't know if they did or not. But for the innocent family members - of course they deserve support & compassion. So do the child victims in the images & their families.
How many here have been witness to the devastation of child sexual abuse survivors? I have - both professionally & personally. Among other things, I grew up w/2 girls whose older brothers abused them. These boys purportedly weren't sexually abused, although one was physically abused. Both of their victims still live the effects of their sibling's actions - & this was incest. Can you even comprehend the other horrors some victimes endure?
Posted by concerned father, a member of the Corte Madera School community, on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm
Sorry about my lack of understanding but I care more about my children and everyone else's children than I do for a mentally and sexually disturbed person. The fact is these types can not be fixed, there is years of proof to this theory, the only real solution is life behind bars for any child sex offender, perverts!!!
Posted by Cut it out, a resident of another community, on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:47 am
Therapist: "We have no idea if he has molested--it's not something that gets advertised". There is no evidence or even accusation of molestation here, just looking at images. It's not the same thing, and our legal system does not permit an assumption to be made that molestations occurred because of an existing sexual attraction.
janet: "Someone with as much money as this man should have been able to find treatment for his venality and perversion. I hope he gets the max. penalty available just because he had the means to curb his appetites." Yeah, let's make sure millionaires get a higher penalty for the same crime than middle class or poor people. I'm being sarcastic. You make no sense at all.
Hmmm: "how dare you compare a sexual interest in children to being gay". Read my comments again. I pointed out that no one, in my view, gets to choose what he or she is attracted to. I included a heterosexual example as well.
concerned father: "I hope he dies behind bars if he is guilty". Life in prison for looking at a picture. Wow. I think you're an extremist.
Posted by Therapist, a resident of the Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2012 at 1:08 am
Cut it Out are you kidding? "Life in prison for looking at a picture" where do you think that picture came from??? Those were children being sexually abused and exploited--it's like he was in the same house but in another room while the acts were taking place. He was as much a part of the abuse of those children as the abusers. As for the family, unless his wife moved out this is the family home where he and his wife of many years raised two now adult children for over 20 years. Luckily the children are out of the home and out of this community so will be able to shield themselves from some of this. However, this is a small town and it will be hard for them to avoid it all together. I know one of the children who is a wonderful, loving, strong and independent person. I really feel so much compassion for both of the siblings and their mother. If this is a total surprise, what a horrible horrible road they have ahead of them. And I agree with Hmmm lots of people are sexually and otherwise abused and grow up to be fine citizens of the world.
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm
[Portion removed; please stick to information about the suspect.] There is no evidence that he has ever molested, or attempted to molest or coerce a child. Frankly, I live not far from him, and I've never even heard of him or his family. The families that live on that block have not had any difficulty with him at all, and they have young children (including girls). I would be the first one in line to persecute (and no, I do not mean prosecute, I mean persecute) a child molester. I do feel very sorry for his family; as well, I am also glad that he was caught and is in jail. It is a very sad situation all around.
Posted by Presumption of innocence?, a resident of the Woodside: Emerald Hills neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm
Wow. Frankly I am concerned with the fact that the names of the accused are released into the public domain before there has been any determination if they are indeed guilty of breaking the law. The individuals named and their families are suffering a trial in the court of public opinion before any sort of due process. I have no problem with public notification or programs like Megan's Law for people convicted of their accused crimes but publishing these names now seems premature that can cause irreparable damage to those involved. I seem to recall some saying about innocent until proven guilty.
I'll give you an example. What if one of those individuals had their wireless networks either unsecured or hacked by a neighbor. The neighbor could have downloaded the pictures but it is the owner of the wireless network who would potentially be implicated. It all depends on how the evidence is gathered. If exonerated there is still the pain and suffering that these accused had to endure even as they try to clear their name from these accusations. I'd prefer to harangue someone after the courts have proven guilt. Then release them unto the Almanac!!
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm
Therapist - Cut it out doesn't, or chooses not to get it. It's not like these men were riffling through a fashion mag looking at provocatively dressed models advertising overpriced clothes. Child porn isn't porn unless it's porn - including being legally classified as such.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Mar 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm
Innocent until proven guilty, especially in San Mateo County.
Lets not forget FBI Sting Operation Dollhouse 4/21/2007 Las Vegas where our Sheriff and Under Sheriff were caught and detained as customers of underaged sex slaves. Then had the SMCSO make a false statement to the public.
Also remember the Ex editor of a local paper who did some stories on corruption of the Atherton Police Department only to be charged with of all things Child Porn on his computer. He was offered a fantastic plea bargain the day after another Atherton resident discovered in COURT that a APD police officer falsified his police report. By the way the photos were of adults not children that was a HUGE problem for the DA.
Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community, on Mar 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm
I didn't say underaged massage therapists, I said underaged sex slaves.
You can google Operation Dollhouse or 3474 Eldon Street Las Vegas, or you can contact the FBI or Las Vegas Metro who had a federally funded division for human trafficked sex slaves on this case.
One other recent San Mateo County case of 17 felony charges against a Belmont President of Chamber of Commerce he spent 11 months in jail because he couldn't post the $1,000,000 bail and at time of trial he declined the plea bargain....He was found NOT GUILTY of ALL 17 counts.
Another reason we all in San Mateo County should remember innocent until proven guilty.
Posted by Concerned Member of The PV Community and a Parent., a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm
Let's get a few things clear.
1. The police came to Mr. Wolf's house with a mobile forensic unit and while searching the home were able to verify that he had possession of child pornography.
2. Not everyone investigated that day was arrested, meaning the police only arrested suspects where they likely found confirmatory evidence.
3. The individuals who consumer this despicable child pornography are literally aiding and abetting in the acts that violate children, including their rape, molestation and abuse for the purpose of generating child rape videos and pictures.
4. Anyone who defends this as an outcome of a troubled childhood may have a valid point, however, this remains an indefensible act. Stop it. There is NO defense to these acts.
5. The Wolf's live within 1,000 feet of Corta Madera and live on a street with young children and families.
6. If they can show any respect, for themselves and for their community, they will move asap.
7. Someone mentioned other kids live on their street, which is accurate. It's also true that everyone who lives near them want Mr. Wolf to leave the community for the comfort of the families and kids at Corta Madera. I have little doubt about that, but I'd be very surprised if this was not the case.
8. Assuming she knows nothing about this alleged crime, everyone must be sympathetic of what a horrible position this has put the perpetrator's wife and family.
9. This is not acceptable behavior anywhere, including PV. The individual should leave immediately.
10. Megan's Law restricts convicted child sex offenders to living no closer than 2,000 feet from a school... and the Wolf's live less than half that distance. I hope they are proactive and move out before being forced to.
11. If he is found guilty and ends up in County and State jail, he will be seriously violated as a "cho-mo." Maybe he would have safety in a Federal penitentiary, but he will not be so fortunate, nor will any of the other suspects if found guilty. They're all going to state, where prisoners keep lists and a culture of enforcing retribution against child sex offenders.
12. If society cracks down vigorously against this type of behavior and takes aggressive stances against the perpetrators, fewer children who cannot defend themselves will be raped on video, taken pictures of when they cannot defend themselves and be protected. We should all stand up against this degenerate.
Posted by PV Resident, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm
Before we behave as judge, jury and jailor we need to let this process play out. One thing is probable for certain -- we don't have all the facts. Jumping to judgement and making assumptions often turns out to be wrong. We as a nation have due process under the law, and everyone is entitled to it. Everyone.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm
Thank you, Mr. Stogner. My "massage therapist" remark was tongue in cheek, hence the quotation marks. I wasn't aware that they were underage. I have a family member who works in state w/victims of human trafficking but haven't talked about Sheriff Munks's arrest & I often get details on cases once made public but never did on this one.
Palo alto resident - I am so very sorry for what you've endured. I know my friends who've gone through it have suffered tremendously. One now works professionally w/other survivors & her strength & dignity amaze me. Wishing you as much good health & happiness as possible.
Concerned Member, thank you for your thoughtful post.
Posted by Due Process, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2012 at 9:11 am
A lot of you people seem to have no idea how the due process of law works.
While true that Mr. Wolf has not been convicted of anything, he has been arrested, and the newspaper account mentioned that evidence was seized. Did you not read the article, which is just above these comments? There is also a discussion of "a cluster of suspected child pornography users" and a large-scale investigation.
While not a presumption of guilt, there is at least enough evidence to have arrested him, so they did. Now they will proceed [hopefully quickly] to trial.
The commenter "Cut it out" mentions things like "There is no evidence or even accusation of molestation here, just looking at images." Cut it out, I ask you this: how do you know? Were you on the scene? Do you know what evidence was removed from the house? Are you an investigator or police officer? If not, then you don't know any more than the rest of us about what evidence does or does not exist. Frankly, the article contains a lot more facts than you provide.
Reserving judgment: yes, a good thing. But a certain amount of shock and outrage over an arrest like this in the community -- an arrest which clearly was not random, but the result of a huge effort by over 100 law enforcement officers -- that shock and outrage is justified, too. For the most part, my reading of the comments is that this outrage is qualified with the requisite "if he is found guilty..." etc.
Posted by Cut it out, a resident of another community, on Mar 26, 2012 at 9:20 am
>> The commenter "Cut it out" mentions things like "There is no evidence or even accusation of molestation here, just looking at images." Cut it out, I ask you this: how do you know?
The article mentioned various people got arrested for different things, including possession vs. distribution. I am assuming if there was an arrest for molestation, this would have been reported, just like the other arrests were. I think it is wrong for you to turn our justice system upside down and believe the assumption should be (or even can be) someone was arrested for something more severe than what it was reported they were arrested for.
>> Are you an investigator or police officer?
Based on my belief system of presuming innocence rather than guilt, clearly not.
Posted by Due Process, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2012 at 10:06 am
I didn't make any assumptions at all. I'm just questioning yours. It appears to be true that Mr. Wolf was not charged with anything beyond Possession of Child Pornography, it also appears to have been backed up with evidence and a mobile forensics unit, which is plenty enough for the outrage that has ensued. And the police statement said (quoting from article above):
"Investigators have found significant links between the possession and trading of child pornography and the actual victimization of children, including a progression by some suspects from fantasy (Internet child porn) to reality (sexual crimes against actual child-victims)," the statement said. "Frequent operations such as these help keep our communities safe."
We will wait and see what happens from here. It is not looking good so far.
Posted by Cut it out, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2012 at 10:30 am
Your theories about crime and punishment, as well as the police statement, are reminiscent of the Tom Cruise movie in which people get arrested before they commit the crime. There may well be a positive correlation between possessing child pornography and molesting children, BUT CORRELATION IN GENERAL IS NOT ENOUGH to assume this individual did so, or to accuse him of perhaps having done so, or to shun him based on this mere possibility. I don't think there's anything else I can say to change your mind; you have a different philosophy on these matters than I do (and than I believe the constitution does).
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm
It's the courts that have to have the presumption of innocence - that includes judge & jury - that doesn't mean the public. I agree w/Due Process: this was a shocking event involving numerous local men arrested & many law enforcement personnel. It was sophisticated & costly & as locals, we get to be shocked, upset & further speculate - those are all normal reactions. Heck, one of the men was arrested on the same block I spent hundreds of happy hours playing as a child.
What I'd like to know: where are the child subjects in these materials & how are they doing? I wont likely ever get an answer even by following this case.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Just like I said in my post - innocent until proven guilty is for the courts. Speculation, shock, outrage - all normal reactions to this & we're not in a courtroom nor are we media. Medieval perhaps, but not evil like sexual exploitation of children.
Posted by Portola Valley Resident & Friend, a resident of the Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm
Let me just say that I'm a female and was best friends with Mr. Wolf's daughter for my entire elementary and middle school life. During the ages of maybe 7-16 I was always at his house with his daughter, sleeping over, etc. I was last there visiting about a year ago. Mr. Wolf was never anything but kind, generous, welcoming, and social. He helped my friend and I with our projects, encouraged our activities, and never made me feel uncomfortable or made any advances. So it's safe to say that this comes as a huge shock to me.
I am disappointed to see so many people jumping down his throat, calling for pitchforks, and even going as far as to say that they hope he dies. Most of the people here don't even know Mr. Wolf and the article reveals very few specifics.
If he truly was into child pornography, I am NOT defending that. I know it's wrong and that the children involved are often abused. But I can speak for Mr. Wolf's character, having been around him as a child and as an adult. I never got the impression that he was anything other than a good person.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm
"I am NOT defending that. I know it's wrong and that the children involved are often abused."
Minor correction, but important point: it's ALWAYS abuse, not often abused.
I recently found out that 2 former work colleagues are registered sex offenders, one for child porn & one for child molesting. I never saw either one of them behave improperly around a child, but it doesn't mean that they didn't commit those crimes.
Posted by local parent, a resident of the Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm
Sorry to Mr. Wolf's friend but they clearly do not get that the very nature of child pornography is abuse itself. Your comment that children involved are "often abused" shows a tremendous lack of understanding about what child porn is all about - toddlers and tiaras it is not.
And I disgree with your comments about the "pitchforks" - frankly I am surprised there is not more outrage given his proximity to a school. No one is protesting outside his house, his picture is not in the papers....
Let's be clear - Mr. Wolf has chosen to live very, very close to a middle school with young children coming and going all day long for many years. If he had any decency and respect towards his PV neighbors and our community, he should have moved.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Mar 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm
local parent - let's not forget that there are TWO other very local men also arrested - one in EPA & one in Menlo. The Menlo one was close to a school as well - a block away. However, proximity to schools may or may not have bearing on this, but I'm sure that the investigators are looking into that angle as well. The SMCSO investigators on this task forcer are very seasoned & well-versed in this type of investigation.
This brings to mind Dr. Roger Levin the Palo Alto doc living in Menlo & his truly heinous crimes - where is he now?
Posted by Portola Valley Resident & Friend, a resident of the Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2012 at 7:25 am
"Sorry to Mr. Wolf's friend but they clearly do not get that the very nature of child pornography is abuse itself. Your comment that children involved are "often abused" shows a tremendous lack of understanding about what child porn is all about - toddlers and tiaras it is not."
If you read the law clearly it says that child porn is any image (including computer-generated images) depicting a minor engaged in sexual activity or the visual representation of minors engaging in erotic behaviour designed to arouse the viewer's sexual interest.
Let's face it, there are a lot of sexually active minors (16, 17, maybe even 15 and younger). If a 17 year old girl (under 18, therefore a minor) WILLINGLY sends her 18 year old boyfriend a nude photo, that's child porn. It doesn't matter if the 17 year old took the photos herself. It doesn't matter if she gave consent. If you're under 18, whether you've done it willingly or not DOESN'T MATTER.
But my point is that not every single child porn case is with children being abused. Most cases - sure. But there are cases where people under 18 take nude photos of THEMSELVES or ask other people to take them so they can send them to their boyfriend/girlfriend/etc.
Furthermore, "computer generated" images depicting children in sexual activities count as child porn. If the image is computer generated, there are no actual children involved. So no physical abuse here either.
I'm not saying that's necessarily what happened in Mr. Wolf's case because I have no idea. Just explaining why I said "often abused."
Posted by I am ashamed of you Portola Valley, a resident of the Portola Valley: other neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm
To Mr. Wolf's friend:
I think you are one of the few people on this forum that understands that the criminal justice system in our country is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
To the community:
Whatever Mr. Wolf did or did not actually do, nobody on this forum knows. You are not the Judge, you are not the Jury and living in Portola Valley does not make you either.
On the connection between possession of child pornography and child molestation:
I echo the comments above that a correlation does not mean a presumption. Moreover, many recent studies have show that there is no direct empirical support for a direct causal link between possession of child pornography and commission of contact offenses (child molestation). If you want to take off your fear mongering hats for a minute and read a scholarly article on the subject here is one: uchastings.edu/hlj/archive/vol61/Basbaum_61-HLJ-1281.pdf If you don't find it persuasive that is fine, but at least think the issue through and do a little research before you start shouting about something you know nothing about.
Lastly, IF Mr. Wolf is convicted, he may be subject to Megan's law, and he and his family will likely have to move from where they currently live, however, before you call for the expulsion of this family remind yourselves 1) Mr. Wolf has not been convicted of anything, he was arrested - see comment above if confused 2) Mr. Wolf was accused of possession of child pornography this is not child molestation - see above if confused.
If you have a child I would certainly understanding wanting to be vigilant and have them keep their distance until the matter is is concluded, but to the rest of you, who it seems clear do not know Mr. Wolf and may not even have young children, why don't you stop trying to lynch the man and let the criminal justice system do what it is suppose to do.
Or maybe you would prefer to live in a country where we stone our neighbors and ask questions about what happened later.
Posted by Portola Valley - Stephen Wolf Concerns, a resident of the Portola Valley: Ladera neighborhood, on Apr 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm
I still believe that this whole thing is disgusting. I don't see how Mr. Wolf and family can continue to live in their community, regardless what the outcome, given that everyone in their community will perceive them in light of these allegations. The whole situation is sad.
It also seems respectful to move away from a school. Why make an entire school full of kids and an entire community live in fear and concern?