Marsh Law Firm Blog

Is Belle Knox the Madonna of Her Generation or Something Else?

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Madonna's 1984 title track, "Like a Virgin", topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks. It was criticized for promoting premarital sex and undermining family values, and there were efforts to ban the song and the accompanying video.

In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy published several nude photos of Madonna taken in New York in 1978. Desperate for money, Madonna posed for as little as $25 a session. Their publication caused a media backlash and social criticism, but Madonna remained defiant and unapologetic. Madonna later appeared on the cover of the NY Post saying about the photographs "I'm NOT ashamed."

Madonna's sexually explicit films, music and books, combined with her unabashed appearance on Letterman, led some to conclude that Madonna was so far outside the mainstream that her career and her legacy were effectively over.

They were wrong.

Smart and capable, Madonna transformed herself from a girl who "wanted to be someone," into a worldwide music and cultural icon. And she accomplished this without the instant global marketing and distribution power of the Internet, something that is nowadays hard to conceive.

The sudden appearance of the Duke college freshman porn star Belle Knox on today's cultural landscape has engendered a great deal of discussion on television, and online in videos, blogs and commentaries. Unlike Madonna, who took years to carefully craft her public persona, Knox has risen to global recognition in just a matter of weeks. And the fact that so many are talking about her says more about us than it does about her.

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Court Okays Strip Searching Middle School Students

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Last month, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee) held that this kind of law enforcement activity is acceptable and does not violate the Constitution. I think this is outrageous.

Here is why I think the Sixth Circuit got it wrong:

On June 2, 2009, police officers in Hazard, Kentucky, received a report of underage drinking at a private residence. T.S., et al. v. Doe et al., Case No. 12-5724, (6th Cir. 2014). Officers responded and discovered a group of minors celebrating their recent eighth grade graduation. The officers decided to breathalyze each of the children and discovered that seven of them, including J.S. and K.S., tested positive for alcohol. Each of the seven were arrested and escorted to the police station. Parents were notified and arrived at approximately 4:00 a.m.. The children remained at the station for the rest of the morning, except for a trip to the hospital where they were required to have their blood drawn.

Eventually, a court-designated social worker arrived at the station. The father of both J.S. and K.S. asked the worker to release his children to his custody. After speaking with the judge, the worker refused to release the children who were held overnight for a court appearance the next day. The children were transported thirty miles to a juvenile detention center. Once J.S. and K.S. arrived at the center, they were subjected to routine intake procedures, including fingerprinting, mug shots, and metal-detection screening.

What makes this case alarming—aside from the fact that two middle school students were arrested and required to spend a night in jail—is that the children were required to undergo a hygiene inspection and health screening which included a something called a “Body ID/Showering Process.”

This required the eighth graders to completely undress for a so-called "visual inspection;" a strip search which lasted for several minutes. After the strip search, J.S. and K.S. were placed in a cellblock with the other five children.

Both children were released to their parents the following morning and the underage drinking charges were eventually dropped.

On February 5, 2014, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld this shocking treatment in T.S. v. John Doe, Case No. 12-5724 (6 Cir. 2014). The Sixth Circuit’s decision, however, is contrary to Supreme Court precedent.

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Landmark Civil Rights Action Filed by Campus Rape Victim to Halt New Federal Law

A University of Virginia rape victim represented by the has filed a landmark civil rights action to stop a new federal law from undermining pending federal investigations of UVA’s mishandling of a sexual assault case on campus. Two separate cases—each filed as a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus and Equitable Relief—were lodged with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, February 21, 2014 and docketed today. The cases are: Jane Doe v. United States Department of Health and Human Services and Kathleen Sebelius, Civil ...

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On Ryan Loskarn

Last week, The Washington Post published a piece in which Ruth Marcus paints the fate of now-deceased Senate staffer-slash-child porn viewer Jesse Ryan Loskarn as a "tragedy." After reading what is allegedly Loskarn's suicide note, Marcus concludes:
Yet Loskarn’s example requires us to recognize the uncomfortable truth that damage is not always one-sided. Victims can become victimizers. Some people do terrible things because they are purely evil, others because they are terribly damaged.
And Marcus is correct. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Loskarn's claim being true, in which case he was, and is, deserving of sympathy for the terrible thing that happened to him as a child. And it is a sad fact that some people abused as children do go on to perpetuate abuse on others, that we are in need of better ways to help adult victims of child abuse heal and break the cycle, that increased compassion and mental health services could perhaps go a long way toward preventing future abuse. However, this does not change the fact that what Loskarn did was wrong.


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Paroline v. Amy Unknown’s Wide-ranging Impact for Victims, Policymakers and Professionals

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) is the leading national organization supporting professionals who serve children and families affected by child maltreatment and violence, including child sex abuse and child pornography. As a multidisciplinary group of professionals, APSAC achieves its mission in a number of ways, most notably through expert training and educational activities, policy leadership and collaboration, and consultation that emphasizes theoretically sound, evidence-based principles. With more than 26 years of existence and a central role in the development of professional guidelines addressing child abuse and neglect, APSAC is well-qualified to advance understanding on the current nature of child pornography and the harm it causes its victims.

On October 18, 2013, in conjunction with its amicus brief in our Supreme Court case Paroline v. Amy Unknown, APSAC issued this statement on the harm to child pornography victims with the goal of assisting the Supreme Court, professionals, policymakers, and the public about most recent science documenting the nature and harm done to victims by the market in child pornography and all of its participants.

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A Week in Washington – Supreme Court Observations

Ominous Beginnings The words in the chapel read "Mary console the children of a land sprinkled with blood and tears." My trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University in Washington, DC was one final stop in a half decade quest to obtain justice for victims of child pornography before the United States Supreme Court. The evening light was just falling over the Capitol and the image of suffering children in a land littered with blood and tears seemed an apt description of the victims we were hoping to vindicate–or at ...

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Wilderness Therapy Settings: An Industry in Need of Legal and Regulatory Oversight

Wilderness therapy, aimed primarily at adolescents presenting with problem behaviors, includes a range of interventions that incorporate nature and the wilderness as prominent aspects of treatment. In theory, wilderness therapists seek to effect both behavioral and attitudinal changes. In the research literature, many authors distinguish wilderness therapy from other wilderness experience programs by describing wilderness therapy as a licensed program run by licensed professionals involving assessment, treatment planning, and service delivery. Whether this distinction ...

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Landmark Children’s Rights Case Now Before the Fifth Circuit

During the past two years, victims of child pornography (represented by the Marsh Law Firm and pioneering attorneys Paul G. Cassell and Carol L. Hepburn) have been seeking restitution in federal courts throughout the country. Almost twenty years ago Congress, led by then-Senator Joe Biden, passed a law as part of the Violence Against Women Act which requires federal district courts to award mandatory restitution to child pornography victims for the "full amount of the victim's losses." 18 U.S.C. § 2259(B)(3). Among the losses covered by the statute are psychiatric care, ...

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