12 Investigates: Child porn for sale on Amazon - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

12 Investigates: Child porn for sale on Amazon


A former Steward School Employee, arrested on child porn charges, is free on bond Friday night, awaiting trial. Investigators say 59-year-old Michael Baynes purchased child porn on Amazon.com.

Baynes told them, when they arrested him for possession of child porn at his Hollandale Road home, he thought it was okay, because it was on the popular retail web site.

Baynes worked at the Steward School in the west end until he resigned, just before his arrest.

According to the federal indictment, he had a child porn collection that included secretly filmed videos, photo's depicting teen boy's genitals and DVD's he says he bought on Amazon.

This isn't the first time Amazon has sold something questionable.

A Colorado man was charged with public obscenity after he wrote a book with advice to pedophiles on how to make sexual encounters with children as safe as possible. He was arrested after selling it to undercover police in Florida.

But in 2010 - that same book was sold on Amazon.com for $4.79.

"Under this situation, Amazon is not guilty of distribution of child porn," said NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin.

Benjamin said, that's because Amazon takes great care to make its role clear in its participation agreement - which is posted on its website.

"When Amazon facilitates transactions between independent sellers and buyers, they're really acting as a bulletin board or like Craigslist, they are there for convenience to enable a willing buyer and a willing seller to get together."

It's the same reason police don't charge Craigslist for the prostitution advertisements posted to its site.

Amazon also has a history of removing illegal items once the company is alerted to their presence on its site.

As for the "I bought on Amazon - so it must be legal" defense? Benjamin warns, you - the consumer - must also know the law.

"Just because you can buy something on Amazon, doesn't make it lawful."

Benjamin tells us if Amazon were held strictly accountable for every unlawful sale that a third party seller made, Amazon would cease to exist - it's just not practical.

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