Child erotica is non-pornographic material relating to children that is used by any individuals for sexual purposes. It is a broader term than child pornography, incorporating material that may cause sexual arousal such as nonsexual images, books or magazines on children or pedophilia, toys, diaries, or clothes. Law enforcement investigators have found that child erotica is often collected by pedophiles and child sexual abuse offenders. Child erotica may be collected as a form of compulsive behavior and as a substitute for illegal or difficult to obtain child pornography and is often a form of evidence for criminal behavior. Some child erotica images are distributed over the internet and presented in a fashion similar to non-erotic child modeling.
Depictions of even a clothed child violate U.S. federal law 18 U.S.C.§ 2252(a)(2), 18 U.S.C.§ 2252(a)(4), and 18 U.S.C.§ 2256(2)(E) if they constitute "lascivious" exhibitions of the genitalia or pubic area. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has defined "lascivious" as "tending to excite lust; lewd; indecent; obscene; sexual impurity; tending to deprave the morals in respect to sexual relations."
In July 2001, Wired News published a story about child modeling web sites that described Lil' Amber, which was a website operated by the web hosting company Webe Web Corporation located in Florida. Webe Web was, at the time, the oldest child modeling site service on the Internet. In November 2001, the NBC television station serving Miami, FL, ran a story entitled "Selling Innocence." A reporter "went undercover" to contact the site operators, and then tracked down Amber (a pseudonym), the model featured in Lil' Amber, at her family's farm in Palm Beach County. The news report prompted FloridaCongressmanMark Foley (R-Palm Beach County) to propose legislation banning child modeling web sites. Foley later resigned from office stemming from allegations of inappropriate conduct with a teenaged boy.
Libman was first identified by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the FBI during an investigation of Webe Web Corp., a Florida-based company. According to court documents, USPIS and FBI agents seized large volumes of computer media during the execution of a search warrant at Libman’s residence in Fort Lauderdale. Many of the parents claimed to be unaware of the images being taken of their children, and some had signed over temporary legal custody of their child to Pierson during the modeling session.
The owners were prosecuted in both Florida and Alabama. On November 28, 2006, criminal charges were laid against the owners of Webe Web Corporation. Immediately, all Webe Web child model sites went offline. Jeff Pierson pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and mailing, transporting or shipping child pornography, while the owners of the web hosting company, Marc Evan Greenberg and Jeff Libman, pled not guilty.
Libman was indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida on April 28, 2009, for receiving, possessing and distributing child pornography. In his plea agreement, Libman admitted he received images that depict prepubescent children and children engaged in sadistic or masochistic conduct. On Nov. 13, 2009, Libman was sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison. He had faced a maximum possible term of 20 years in prison.
Libman, Marc Evan Greenberg and Webe Web Corporation were indicted in November 2006 in a separate case in the Northern District of Alabama for conspiracy to produce images of child pornography and transportation of images of child pornography. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief Alexandra R. Gelber and Trial Attorney Elizabeth M. Yusi of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña of the Southern District of Florida. The case is being investigated by USPIS, the FBI and CEOS’ High Tech Investigative Unit.
In early 2006 the operators of the child modeling agencies "A Little Agency" and "The VMS," (Matthew Duhamel) were arrested on charges of child pornography. Neither A Little Agency nor the VMS distributed nude photographs but federal prosecutors argued that they still contained "lascivious exhibitions" of the genitalia based on the six part Dost test. Federal prosecutors claimed the Web sites dealt in images of girls as young as 9 wearing scant clothing in suggestive poses. One photo reportedly shows a 9-year-old girl in "black stiletto pumps, a black lace thong, black bra, and a black jacket" sitting on a dining room table, according to court records. The operators were indicted on transportation of child pornography, possession of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. Attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against them arguing that the pictures of young girls in suggestive poses on the websites they operated did not rise to the level of pornography. However, the judge assigned to the case, Chief Judge Campbell, denied the motion to dismiss, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined fully clothed pictures can be considered pornographic.
The Japanese Law Banning Child Prostitution and Pornography, enacted in 1999, defines child pornography as any image of a child under 18 years old "naked or partially naked, which is sexually stimulating."
DVDs and photo books of scantily clothed Junior Idols are available for sale.
The Publishers Ethics Committee of the Japan Magazine Publishers's Association checks bookstores for inappropriate publications and has issued warnings to publishers of pornographic manga (books). However, committee members have said it is not easy to determine when an image crosses the line from art to child pornography.