Water Polo Community Unites to Just Say NO

Joan Gould
Water Polo Planet
11/15/07

Two weeks ago, the water polo community was stunned when the Water Polo Planet Message Boards Moderator posted the following warning;

SERIOUS WARNING TO ALL. PLEASE READ

Sexual predators of young boys at pools in Southern California.

Two well known photographers from California Sports Photography have been taking and posting (on the internet) HIGHLY inappropriate photographs of male water polo players from high schools, JO's and Colleges in Southern California.

As a group, we need to get these guys off every pool deck and venue before one of the kids is hurt or disappears. I debated long and hard about even posting anything publicly ( I do not want to encourage these people) but with the help of a concerned mom, the more I looked into it and followed the links, the more disturbed I became.

From what we see, the legitimate site has normal pictures for sale but another complete group of photographs (of the same kids at the same events) are being posted on sites around the world with key words "speedo, lycra, bondage, sexy lads" and worse. These are not even thinly disguised as kiddie porn sites, all using our own normal kids as the bait.

He has also posted barely veiled pornographic videos (of our kids) on You Tube.

These photographs feature kids in team caps with photographs of the venue so it is clear where our kids are to be found.

This is not funny. This is NOT to be taken lightly. This needs to be a concentrated effort to get these people off our pool decks. Notify your kids coaches (boys high school and college), notify your AD, and question EVERY professional photographer who is taking pictures at boys high school or college events.

If anyone has any doubts about the veracity of this warning, private message me on the message board. We will be happy to send you the links to the websites featuring these pictures. We will be happy to send you the links to the gay kiddie porn message boards that feature our kids pictures.

The Above was the Water Polo Cummunity's Marching Orders

This story is a tribute to the group of concerned men and women who identified and tracked down a group of sexual pedophiles and, in a short 4 weeks time put them out of business.

It is a testament to the entire water polo community, who, separated by 3,000 miles of geography, a multitude of conferences and innumerable personal differences, pulled together and solved a problem that threatened to compromise the core of its values.

It is the story of courage, tenacity and concern for our kids and our sport.

Early in October, a suburban California Mom (we will call her Mary) was checking scores on the OC Varsity website. At the bottom of the page was a link to a company advertising “Water Polo Photographs” which she clicked on, hoping to find photographs of her 14 year old sons recent game. The link took her to www.allensnaps.com where she discovered to her horror, thousands of out of water photographs of male high school water polo players with all photographs centered around Speedo covered areas and clearly aimed at sexual rather than athletic content.

As most of us realize, Google is a wonderful tool…a quick internet search showed Mary that these people had a very clever scam going. Operating under the guise of a legitimate sports photography group “California Sports Photography”, these photographers would gain access to our pool decks to take and sell legitimate pictures of our kids for purchase on their website. Unfortunately, California Sports Pics was just a front for the darker, nefarious business of “Allensnaps”... where the same photographers posted additional  photographs of the same athletes but concentrated on all out of water shots highlighting the players Speedos and catching players in candid, overtly sexual and otherwise embarrassing moments outside of the competition.

Speechless with outrage, Mary googled “Allensnaps” to try to discover the identity of this person only to find that Allensnaps was the most innocuous of this mans cyberstalking… they had also posted the same photographs on several gay pedophile message boards such as www.sexylads.net, www.younglifter.com and www.whitespeedos.com. These sites featured the unsuspecting young players’ images and invited pedophiles all over the world to ogle and publicly comment on the physical attributes of these kids, many of whom were under the age of 18. The comments clearly indicated that these photographs were being used to satisfy the sexual obsessions of the international gay pedophile community. Comments ranged the entire gambit from “Oh what a lovely boy” to “Ohhhhh that boy makes me soooooo HOT” to graphic descriptions of what the viewer would like to do to and with the children.  The sites are nauseating and frightening.

The Allen Snaps site AS WELL AS the Allensnaps posts on the aforementioned message boards offered CD’s of our kids pictures to gay pedophiles around the world for $20.00 per CD…  Many of the photos displayed the teams name and logo so each image made it clear where the kids could be found.

Mary did what any mother would do, sending emails to and calling officials from the school district, USA Water Polo, the State of California and the city. Unfortunately, the simple act of photography at a public event is not illegal. The law deals in black and white and while these pictures may nauseate, scare and sicken us, they remain technically legal. Should there be a law against it? Yes. Is there one? No. This FACT makes it nearly impossible to apply summary legal remedies quickly and ties the hands of public and private officials as much as it ties ours. The law becomes a little more murky when applied to kids under the age of 18 but remains difficult to prosecute thus is largely ignored by law enforcement officials and district attorneys.

In the midst of this chaos, most parents looked to USA Water Polo to solve the problem although it is clear that the majority of events were CIF or NCAA sanctioned NOT USA Water Polo. In all fairness to USA Water Polo, we cannot expect them to invade the baliwick of CIF or NCAA when they have nothing to do with the event.  In the spirit of fairness and thoughtfulness, we cannot expect USA Water Polo to become involved ONLY when a problem develops.

Most contact attempts to authorities received no response or insufficient response, prompting Mary to begin calling fellow “water polo moms” and parents of the club. Mary quickly gathered a cadre of willing helpers who began combing the internet including the gay websites, My Space, You Tube and Google in an effort to track down the people involved.  They quickly realized that there were 2 photographers on the West Coast and one very shady character stalking the Midwest. In less than a week, this group had identified the name of one west coast photographer and was hot on the trail of the second. In addition to locating the perpetrators, they used Photoshop to blow up the images and identify the schools (from cap logos) where the boys were from and began notifying coaches and parents of the problem.

Failing to get a response from the local governing bodies that satisfied her and frustrated at the lack of action, Mary emailed me on October 19th, asking for my help.  After looking at the evidence trail and after considerable discussions with Doc and the Moderator, we agreed that the situation was severe enough to warrant going public on the WPP message board and warning our community that we had a serious issue. We collectively felt that this was not an issue for USA Water Polo but one where our “Alternative Voice” could be used to effect global communication and dialog.

This decision was not arrived at lightly. We did not wish to encourage these people but after corresponding with the lead photographer of this ring, I arrived at the same decision as did the other mothers…the photographers were clinging to “photographers rights” and the rights of the gay community to ogle our youngsters. They were militant in their stance and were not going to back down.

We posted our notice and watched the websites. After the first week, it became clear that the photographers were still at it and would not back down without further action. At that point, we posted URLS of some of the least reprehensible sites…then went on to names, phone numbers and email addresses of the photographers we had identified. As a result, hundreds of emails were sent to these rogues, phone lines were burned up with calls and messages and the end result was that the photographers feared for their lives in the wake of threats of physical violence. We at WPPP neither advocate nor condone violence as a solution but the drive to protect our young is a biologic imperative, fundamental in human beings who are correctly wired. Those who ignore this human (and animal) trait do so at their own peril.

Last week, the second West Coast photographer who claimed to be in “law enforcement” was identified by his picture on his My Space profile. His real name was revealed in the My Space URL and his place of employment located thanks again, to Google. We were shocked to find this second photographer working at the campus police department of one of our NCAA schools…an email was immediately sent and the coach responded quickly and decisively to solve the problem.  While the immediate response of the coach on the fate of the camera may prove to be a physiological impossibility, his intention to shut this guy down was crystal clear.  

We all pulled together. The community forgot differences and in the midst of high school and NCAA seasons, forgot our internecine rivalries and banded together. Calls were made to the perpetrators and emails sent, posters hung at every pool we could find and after a scant 3 weeks, we worked together and have shut this pornographic ring down.

Recently, we received an email from the owner of California Sports Pics, promising to cease forever any photography of any aquatic event in the United States. He further promised to remove all existing pictures from You Tube and will eliminate as many old pictures as he is able to find. He WILL leave the photographs on www.allensnaps.com citing the fact that his subscribers have paid for access. Is this good enough? No. Sorry, it is not. Nothing short of the removal of all material will satisfy us. His current “customer” problems are not our problem. Our kids ARE our issue.

As of the publication date, we have NOT received similar assurances from the other West Coast Photographer, Scott Stanford Cornelius. Scott has closed his You Tube and www.shirtlessmuscle.com sites and gone further underground so we consider him to be a continued threat.

Unfortunately, the threat to the Midwest also still exists. The Owner of California Sports Pics has told us that he purchased a disc of pictures from an unknown photographer in the Midwest calling himself “Freddie” which he believes to be an alias. Payment was made to an anonymous Pay Pal account that has since been closed and there was no return address. We have further been told that this disc of pictures contained a MAJORITY of pictures of children (all of water polo players and swimmers) so young and flagrantly sexual that they could not even be posted on the child pedophilia sites we referenced above. This is frightening and we are advising the Midwest people to remain on high alert.

Looking at the www.younglifter.com website, it is clear that many other pedophiles are stalking the streets with cameras and posting young mens pictures on these sites. We have scared the current group of 3 but we have eliminated neither the problem nor the threat. Many of these people are in California but many also exist elsewhere. EVERY ONE OF US needs to be aware and vigilant.

Perhaps the only bright side of this series of events is that we have very effectively demonstrated what we, as a community, can achieve when we work together toward a common goal. In the weeks and months ahead, let’s keep this in mind and continue to work together to try to protect ourselves from this and other threats that are out there.

We offer a few guidelines and suggestions about photography at our events;

  1. No reputable professional photographers will photograph children under the age of 18 in any public venue without the express written permission of the parents. Most avoid it entirely with or without permission.

  2. QUESTION, QUESTION, QUESTION any photographer who is not known at an aquatic venue. If the photographer is legitimate, he or she will have a media credential and will not hesitate to provide identification. Be right up front and write down the photographer’s name, address and license number.

  3. DO NOT HESITATE to ask any unknown photographer to leave. If he or she refuses, call the police. It is not the job of the coaches or the referees to decide who is and who is not legitimate. Let the police sort that out.

  4. Ensure that every aquatic venue in your area has a prominently displayed sign expressly forbidding photography without the express written permission of the facility operator. This sign gives the venue the right to decide who is, and who is not legitimate.

  5. REMEMBER that even a small camera can be used to take and distribute illicit pictures of our kids.  Photoshop and a high mega pixel cameras will allow any kind of editing.

Some Strong Allies Support What We Are Doing

For those of you who are equivocal about the seriousness of this issue or think it is over, consider a recent article by Dom Giordano in the Philadelphia Bulletin

Sex Offender Study Shouldn't Be Deep-Sixed
By: Dom Giordano, The Philadelphia Bulletin
07/27/2007

A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported that the Bureau of Prisons had conducted a study on Internet child porn. The study focused on the connection between viewing child pornography and those who molest children.

The conclusions were stunning and sobering. The report showed that 85 percent of those convicted for downloading, viewing and sharing child pornography had admitted to molesting children. This report was alarming because previous studies had found the figure to be lower: Somewhere in the 30-40 percent range. This report shows that the problem is bigger than imagined.

The new findings validate that there is more to this story. It certainly should make the public - and criminal juries - more skeptical when accused kiddie porn viewers offer up a lame "I was only looking" legal defense. Second, it gives prosecutors the opportunity to leverage these findings when pursuing more severe punishment and jail terms for these creeps. And finally, while the report is disturbing, it's necessary reading to help parents and communities become more vigilant in protecting children from these dangerous predators.

But guess what? Neither you nor I can get this report. Quite inexplicably, the Bureau of Prisons has decided not to make the report public. It's pretty clear to see why the study is being kept under wraps. People on the other side of this issue will surely come out and say that the study will spread hysteria and make it more difficult for released offenders to return to their communities without the full range of civil liberties afforded to ordinary citizens.

Frankly, those types of arguments are weak and out of whack. People on the other side of the pedophile issue are on the wrong side. Our response should always be that kids come first. Their safety and well-being should be the priority of our society, not the concern of whether convicted sex offenders feel welcome in their neighborhoods

Beware Smut Peddlers Because You Or Your Smut Will Not Be Tolerated By the Water Polo Community

We here at WPP wish to commend every one of you for standing up for his and her principals and protecting our kids…for standing up and saying;

NO, Not on OUR WATCH.