‘The Firm’ author John Grisham appears to defend child pornography — if perpetrators are older white men

An interview has resurfaced in which bestselling author John Grisham says he believes it is unfair to imprison middle-aged white men simply for viewing child pornography.

As accusations of sexual harassment, abuse and misconduct in politics and the entertainment business has remained at the forefront of the news cycle since explosive allegations against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last month, a two-year-old interview with the popular author of The Firm and a Time to Kill has come under scrutiny for an apparent suggestion that child pornography is not always criminal. He also seems to imply that white men are less dangerous than offenders of other races, and that child pornography is not as serious if the children victimized are girls vs. boys.

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,” Grisham told the Telegraph in October 2014.

“But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

Grisham went on to say that a good friend of his had to serve a three-year jail sentence after an FBI investigation had found he had downloaded content from pornography websites featuring underage girls.

“His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff – it was 16 year old girls who looked 30.”

“He shouldn’t [have] done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys. He didn’t touch anything.”

According to the New York Post, Grisham walked back his comments two after the interview sparked a backlash.

“Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography — online or otherwise — should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Grisham reportedly said in a statement.

“My comments … during an interview with the British newspaper the Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.”


[Feature image: Associated Press/John Grisham]