Blind Man Claims He Didn’t Realize He Downloaded Child Pornography
Andrew Shaw, 44, of Thornton Cleveleys in Lancashire, downloaded a whopping 71 obscene pictures of children and has been charged with three child sex offenses. Twelve of the images are considered the most severe category of abuse. But, he claimed he didn’t realize it.
Shaw said he had a good reason for mistaking the photos for more “normal” ones. The man appeared in court before magistrates with the help of his black Labrador guide dog claiming he didn’t realize he was looking at child pornography because he can only see very limitedly with one eye.
Shaw’s attorney, Allan Cobain, said his client planned to plead guilty to some or all of the charges. He added, however, “This is an unusual case as my client is registered blind. He has no sight in one eye and only a small amount in the other. It may be argued that difficulty with his vision makes it difficult for him to put an age to the images he downloads. He may think he is looking at 16-year-olds.” Not that downloading underaged teen images would be much better.
Recently, some porn sites have worked to be more inclusive toward users with different disabilities. Pornhub.com includes narrated versions of its videos for the visually impaired. “We did feel it important to start to include this type of more-accessible content on our platform,” Pornhub Vice President Corey Price said, “given the relative ambiguity of the concept and the sheer number of people who are visually impaired around the world.” Therefore, depending on the sites visited and the features offered, Shaw could have known full well what he was looking at.
Cobain asked the magistrates to adjourn proceedings, suggesting that Crown Prosecution Service look at the file again considering his client didn’t realize what he was doing. His plea was successful even though Shaw had been under investigation for over a year and Crown Prosecutor Jim Mowbray said the case had been carefully looked at before court proceedings began. Shaw was granted bail.
Last year, Bill Cosby’s attorneys said the comedian was gradually losing his eyesight and had been declared legally blind, so he was unable to defend himself against sexual assault charges issued by numerous women. In April of this year, the comedian stated he is now completely unable to see. He arrived in court each day aided by a cane.
Seems that problem eyesight may have been a viable reason to avoid a guilty verdict, but Shaw can’t measure up to Cosby’s celebrity status, and whether blind or not, the comedian’s reputation has certainly been forever damaged.
“His legacy is forever going to be tarnished,” Larry Wilmore said of Cosby during his trial. “It may be one of those things that people compartmentalize. But it will overshadow his career because of the severity and just because of the sheer number of women involved.”
Whether Shaw’s claims will hold up in court and allow him to receive a less harsh punishment is yet to be seen. Regardless, his guilty claim will ensure he is prosecuted.