Arizona radio station under investigation for child porn PSA

The Cochise County sheriff said he formally opened an investigation after a public service announcement produced by a Benson radio station offered listeners tips on ways to "hide" their child pornography. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Disgusting, disturbing and potentially illegal. That's what the sheriff of Cochise County thinks about a public service announcement produced by a Benson, Ariz. radio station that offered listeners tips on ways to "hide" their child pornography.

Sheriff Mark Dannels said he formally opened an investigation Tuesday that includes seeking legal advice from the county attorney on whether charges can be filed in connection with the public service announcement. The message was created and voiced by Cave 97.7 FM manager Paul Lotsof.

"He is enticing people and providing the information that says, 'Hey, if you're going to look at child porn, this is what you need to do so the cop doesn't catch you,'" Dannels said.

"Freedom of speech does not include telling people to commit crimes."

[UPDATE: Arizona radio station removes child pornography announcement]

The public service announcement was broadcast late at night for nearly two years before a news reporter in Tucson broke the story.

In an excerpt of the PSA posted online, Lotsof says, "You should understand that your internet provider could report you to the police if they catch you looking at a website featuring naked juveniles." He later instructs listeners to never store "such pictures on the hard drive of your computer. Always use an external drive and hide it where nobody will ever find it. Likewise, never keep paper pictures, tapes or films of naked juveniles where anyone else can find them."

When contacted by KPHO/KTVK, Lotsof provided the full version of the public service announcement, which begins by criticizing Arizona's child pornography law.

"Nearly every day, somebody gets arrested for violating Arizona's child pornography law. Arizona's child pornography law is the most stringent in the nation in that it prescribes a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for each photo that you have of a naked juvenile in a sexually-suggestive pose. That means that if you're caught with six such pictures of somebody under the age of 18, you go to prison for 60 years," Lotsof says in the public service announcement. That 20-second segment was not included in the excerpt originally posted online.

Lotsof later notes that, "In many cases, the penalty for possession of pictures is worse than the penalty for murder."

In Arizona child pornography cases, each count must be served consecutively, making the penalties stricter than those for second-degree murder, according to defense attorney Laurie Herman.

Lotsof provided the following statement in defense of the public service announcement:

"Please take notice that the PSA in question does not condone child pornography in any way; it merely points out that the penalties for possession of child pornography are draconian, to the extent that the real victims are the people serving these incredibly long sentences. The suggestion that anyone in possession of such material be warned to get rid of it or take steps to avoid prosecution serves to emphasize that the penalty provisions of the law – calling for 10 years’ imprisonment per image – are so extreme that the greater harm is in the enforcement of the law. The PSA does provide factual information and that information is perfectly accurate and important."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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