Police Abuse

Former Florida 'Officer of the Year' Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Federal Department of Homeland Security busted local cop.

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St. Lucie Sheriff's Office

Port St. Lucie, Fla. police officer Michael Harding, the 2011 Fort Pierce "Police Officer of the Year" has been arrested on federal charges related to receiving, possessing, and distributing child pornography and material involving sexual exploitation of minors.

According to the criminal complaint (PDF), an undercover federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent says he found an account on the Kik Messenger service that had posted two images of a preteen girl engaged in a sex act in July. A months long investigation ensued which allegedly led DHS to Harding.

The local CBS affiliate reports:

According to the criminal complaint, Harding accessed the "desthfromabovee" account on Kik 33 times, most often during the early morning hours between midnight and 6 a.m.

Investigators said Harding worked the 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift for the Port St. Lucie Police Department, Saturday through Tuesday.  Based on the time frames of the posts and his work schedule, investigators believe Harding uploaded some of the pornographic content while in his patrol car.

Investigators searched Harding's home and found two thumb drive, one stored in a gun case in a closet in the master bedroom.  The thumb drive had hundreds of images and videos of children "engaged in sexually explicit conduct," according to the criminal complaint.  A second thumb drive included images of Harding and bondage photos of prepubescent girls.

Kik Messenger received a one out of seven on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Secure Messaging Scorecard suggesting the months long investigation into Harding was pretty low hanging fruit.

Related: Jacob Sullum on Unjust Child Porn Penalties

NEXT: Top Mass. Court: Cops Can't Stop a Car Just Because It Smells Like Pot

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  1. Based on the time frames of the posts and his work schedule, investigators believe Harding uploaded some of the pornographic content while in his patrol car.

    Ok but did he make it home safely afterward?

    1. He conquered, he saw, he came.

      1. Bravo!

    2. Another crooked cop that thinks he is above the law. What else is new?

  2. On July 23, 2015, at approximately 9:42 AM EST, SA Mccall,
    using a device connected to the Internet, signed into an undercover
    Kik Messenger account and saw that user “desthfromabovee” had
    posted two images of child pornography in the Kik Messenger chat
    room “#toddlerfuck” on July 23, 2015, at approximately 9:11 AM.

    Well, no more internet for me today. I’m going to go into a dark room and contemplate why humanity should go on any longer.

    1. You’ve just now started wondering that?

    2. I don’t believe in the death penalty… but if the citizens of Port St. Lucie were to emasculate this dude, flay him with a hot knife, and then drag him behind a truck until his remains were spread over twenty miles of asphalt, i’d be ok with it.

      1. Or an investigation will find that this was really “undercover work” and he’ll get a medal.

    3. On August 13, 2015, SA Mccall again signed into an
      undercover Kik user account in order to conduct child exploitation
      investigations on the Kik Messenger application . At approximately
      1:04 PM EST, SA Mccall saw that user ”desthfromabovee” had posted
      one video child related sexually explicit material in the Kik
      Messenger chat room u#toddlerfuck” on August 2015, at
      approximately 6:49 AM . SA Mccall was able to download and save
      this video to an undercover device. The file was a 37 second
      depiction of an adult male rubbing his penis on the vagina and anus
      of a preschool aged female.

      I’m suddenly rethinking my views on torture.

    4. So let the bombs fall, cause buddy I don’t care.
      Kill ’em fucking all man, kill everybody each and everywhere.
      He rang me up and said “I’ll meet you at the liquor store,
      We’ll drink and drink until we can’t fucking breathe anymore.”
      I’m sick to death and I’m drowning in my own fucking tears,
      What harm will come if I knock away a few more beers?”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS3mtbFlr90

      1. But then from nowhere,
        He feels a gentle hand on his shoulder,
        And suddenly all the murder leaves his mind.
        No one knew a fragile life
        Like the woman that his Father used to call his Wife.
        And for what it’s worth no one was as kind.

  3. desthfromabovee

    What does that even mean?

    1. I think it means he’s functionally illiterate.

      1. “Do you know why I’m pulling you over?”

        “Because you got a C-minus average in high school?”

    2. death from above

  4. If that’s not the face of a pervert I don’t know what is.

    1. Missing the pedostache.

      1. He’s undercover. He shaved it off.

    2. I WANTED TO SAY THAT! But I followed the alt-text instructions…

      1. I thought they meant we couldn’t rotate his head 90 degrees to get the side angle mugshot.

        1. I think a 720 degree rotation should be sufficient. Body remains in place and we just twist the head until we get the angle we’re after.

          1. Forget the body, the head will be much easier to reposition once it’s impaled on a pike.

          2. A 720 degree rotation would just give us another frontal shot.

            You want either 630 degrees, or 810 degrees, for a profile. Geez.

            1. Yes, but the face would have a much different expression!

    3. Add Oakleys and a copstache and it’s a pretty standard law enforcement face.

  5. Tony|9.24.15 @ 5:16PM|#
    New cop policy: better for you to be shot than for you to accidentally shoot a nonthreatening person. Now, who wants to sign up?

    you mean we’d miss out on quality hires like this sociopath?

    1. Is the Tony sockpuppet trying to say that that’s not better? Because that’s obviously better.

      1. yes. better 10 innocent men killed that one cop shot because how will they recruit the kind of people who want to shoot people without consequences otherwise?

  6. In the last thread I commented on with a pedo theme (Jared from Subway, I think) I was instructed that ensnaring pedos was wrong and child porn was okay if you didn’t actually produce it but just watched it or possessed it.

    There are a handful of crimes that need to be viciously and aggressively prosecuted – child porn being one – the distribution, creation or possession of. No child can give consent. period. And by child I mean human being under the age of consent – 18.

    1. Disagree. The creation of the porn is the actual crime. It can never be a crime to view something, no matter how horrendous its production.

      Imagine if we poured all of the effort currently being wasted on going after viewers into the pursuit of the creators.

      1. Officer Michael Harding appreciates your point of view.

        1. And I appreciate yours.

    2. 2 Things:

      1) Age of consent for sexual acts runs between 14-18 in the US, so through puberty is about the only agreed upon standard
      2) Is viewing images of a murder the same as murder? Should everyone who watched the beheading videos made by al-Qaeda be treated the same as the beheaders? If not, you can see the problem.

      1. Right. In this case we correctly go after the monsters decapitating people, in order to prevent them from inflicting the actual harm. It would be absurd to suggest that those viewing the decapitation are somehow culpable for the murder.

        1. When adults use the images of toddlers to wack-off they’re not passive views. Incentives matter. Destroying the inventive to produce kiddie porn is the goal in aggressively prosecuting the distribution and possession of it.

          1. Destroying the inventive to produce kiddie porn is the goal in aggressively prosecuting the distribution and possession of it.

            I don’t think you will like where that rationale leads.

            1. Yeah, I’m not a truly principled libertarian because I carve out an exemption for kiddie porn.

              You got me there.

            2. As ever, by outlawing the mere possession of kiddie porn, we have created a black market, which in turn creates a cash flow opportunity.

              If it was legal, it would be mostly free, and then where would the financial incentive be?

              Looking at this from a purely utilitarian POV, I don’t think its obvious at all that outlawing possession reduces production, and it may in fact increase it.

              1. ^This.

              2. Looking at this from a purely utilitarian POV…

                For a magazine called Reason

                1. It’s early but it’s Friday so fuck it DRINK!

              3. Which is why the lifting on restrictions for pornographic materials has led to the disappearance of pornography. Makes sense if your goal is employ sophistry to protect the supply of child pornography. Not so much sense if reduce the supply and hence victims of child pornography is your goal though.

              4. While it is a black market, It is currently mostly free.

                Kiddie porn isn’t TWD.

                The appeal is limited to very few individuals. We’re not going to increase the market or profitability by any incentive or disincentive while we maybe able to decease the market with disincentives.

        2. “Right. In this case we correctly go after the monsters decapitating people, in order to prevent them from inflicting the actual harm.”

          No. There is no preventing it. The purpose of “going after” monstrous decapitators is to punish them for having monstrously decapitated folks with insufficient cause.

      2. I’m on the fence on this and will play Devil’s advocate to your points:

        1. Yes, but it’s quite clear in this case that no consent was possible. This isn’t Traci Lords doing porn when she was 15.

        2. I can see the argument that, in this case, he is creating demand for an illegal and immoral act. The terrorist beheading videos are created for informative purposes, child porn is created for profit.

        1. Back to my point about how to get rid of it though. Is there any number of these sick individuals viewing the porn that you could arrest which would cause the rest of them to reconsider their pursuit? Especially given that the risk of discovery for these folks is minuscule?

          I’ll say it again: Imagine if we poured all of the effort currently being wasted on going after viewers into the pursuit of the creators.

          1. Going after users is a good way to trace the supply back to creators. I’m curious as to how you’d even discover the producers without possession being a crime. Are you saying the police should just start raiding shady warehouses in hopes that someone is shooting child pornography in them?

            1. “Going after users is a good way to trace the supply back to creators.”

              Worked so well for drug prohibition, didn’t it?

              1. Drug war compared to what? A drug war in which we only targeted suppliers would have probably been even less successful.

                But the difference between you and me is that I’m willing to fight child porn even if we don’t stop all child porn. Apparently you only want to fight if the supply can be stopped completely. Which sounds to me a lot like an excuse not to fight it all.

                1. “Drug war compared to what? A drug war in which we only targeted suppliers would have probably been even less successful.”

                  The point is we used your demand-reduction methods in the drug war and have failed miserably, which is the inevitable outcome of applying that same strategy again.

                  1. Because demand for drugs is similar to demand for kiddie porn?

                    No it isn’t.

                    Strategies that were ineffective (and immoral in imo) is pursuing the DW are quite effective in prosecuting kiddie porn. The remaining question is: are those strategies immoral? In the context of the crime my answer is ‘no’.

                    1. “Strategies that were ineffective (and immoral in imo) is pursuing the DW are quite effective in prosecuting kiddie porn.”

                      Evidence?

                    2. Look, the general public views drug use with a great deal of ambivalence. We view child pornography with widespread horror.

                      Comparing kiddie porn to the DW is a poor analogy for a host of obvious reasons.

                      The DW failed in part because of that ambivalence; that seems unlikely in prosecuting kiddie porn.

                    3. seems unlikely evidence

        2. “I can see the argument that, in this case, he is creating demand for an illegal and immoral act. The terrorist beheading videos are created for informative purposes, child porn is created for profit.”

          So you’re saying if the material were distributed for free, there would be no culpability then?

          1. You aren’t responsible for beheadings by watching beheading videos but I’d personally be loathe to watch them out of consideration for the victim and their kin.

            With child porn, it exists solely to satisfy the sick desires of the people who like to watch child pornography. If such people didn’t exist or didn’t look for it there would be less of it. The fact that there are secret chat rooms devoted to sharing such material is horrifying.

            Maybe profit isn’t the right word because it isn’t applicable in all situations but child porn isn’t the same thing as terrorist videos from a moral and culpability standpoint.

      3. 1. The age of consent for sex acts is distinct from the age of consent for the filming and distribution of the sex act. That’s not to say teens sexting each other is the same as a toddler being ass raped. They shouldn’t care remotely similar classifications.

        2. I didn’t indicate that viewing child porn was equivalent to producing it. It said it should be a crime. There’s a distinction to be made between privately produced and distributed child porn (and possibly murder) and that which is available on social media and the media in general. Snuff films are a sub-genre of pornography that carry similar legal ramification for distribution and possession.

      4. I’m ambivalent. The beheading movies weren’t filling a demand, so viewing them isn’t the same as child porn. On the other hand I think it is dumb to outlaw animated/CGI pedo porn because there really isn’t a victim and it gives the pedos an outlet.

        1. The beheading movies weren’t filling a demand

          Pretty sure a bunch of dudes who got revved up enough to join ISIS would dispute that.

          1. Or the people who bought Faces of Death videos. Granted it’s not a huge demand.

        2. I agree. Unlike real child porn, there’s no individual victim with CGI pedo porn.

          1. And let’s not forget, we give the state power when we authorize them to pursue the viewers, power which they inevitably abuse, as in the case of Brian Dalton, prosecuted and eventually imprisoned for a purely personal diary containing fantasies of him having sex with children. He was essentially placed in a cage for writing down his thoughts.

            Every power we give to the state, we should do so advisedly and with an abundance of caution. The power to police the viewing habits of every person does not justify the intangible and ineffectual gains against viewers, and the opportunity cost in terms of dollars and manpower to go after the actual perpetrators of the abuse.

            1. We probably shouldn’t give the state the power to prosecute murderers then. They could abuse that power and imprison and execute the innocent.

              Making the argument that possession of kiddie porn should be a prosecutable offensive isn’t the same as suggesting we should give the state unlimited power.

              1. I said we should give the power advisedly and with an abundance of caution, not rescind the power altogether.

                Strawman fail.

                1. No, not a strawman. You’re making a slippery slope argument.

                  If we can grant the state the power to prosecute murder in the first (contract murder) and other non-participatory crimes than it is reasonable to grant them the power to prosecute the possession of kiddie porn.

                  1. Those viewing child porn did not contract with the producers of same. That is where your argument fails.

                    1. So, only murder that is explicitly contracted should be prosecuted? Naw, I think we know the answer to that question.

                    2. “So, only murder that is explicitly contracted should be prosecuted?”

                      You either kill someone yourself, or you explicitly contract with someone to have that person murdered. Is there some “implicit” contract to murder that you’d like to elaborate?

                      And of course viewing footage of a murder should never be prosecuted. Even if we had some vague sense that going after those murder watchers would lead us to the actual murders, we’d never be foolish enough (I would hope) to attach criminal sanctions to the watching of murder footage.

    3. Furthermore it is astonishingly stupid to insist that young people are incapable of consensual transactions till they attain the age of eighteen motherfucking years. It’s hard to see how the claim could be sustained by anyone who had actually been alive between the ages of seven and eighteen.

    4. 18 is not a universal age of consent.

  7. So wait child pornography is bad now from the libertarian perspective. Principals not principles applies just as much to situations where you dislike the principals and it’s quite clear that a lot of people who are perfectly comfortable with child pornography when it’s John Grisham’s buddy getting rub burn are suddenly turning into fascists when a cop is guilty.

    1. I think are far better position would be that yes child porn is odious. I know it goes against ever ounce of libertarianism deviants are use ethos, but at least it’s consistent.

  8. Child porno is evidence of violent crime. If anything is required of a citizen, it should be that he take action of some sort or other when confronted with such a huge body of evidences. One may certainly make a better case for it than for that citizens ought to be required to pay taxes.

    1. Other than this is no legitimate basis for attacking someone that keeps it.

  9. How do cops and prosecutors and juries get a pass for watching the stuff? Is that exception actually spelled out in law or is it just something everyone looks the other way from as a matter of practicality?

    1. They have to watch it to know what’s in it. Sometimes repeatedly.

  10. Nobody up to me mentioned the oddness of this being on DHS’s beat?

    1. We’re still trying to figure out how they caught a criminal.

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