July 24, 1986 |
|Education||Stockdale High School, Bakersfield|
|Occupation||Public speaker, former
webcam and child  pornographer
Justin Berry (born July 24, 1986) is an American who, beginning at age 13, operated pornographic websites featuring himself and other teen males. In 2005, at the age of 18, he cooperated in a The New York Times feature article. Before publication, Berry was granted immunity in exchange for his help in prosecuting others involved with his sites. After the story broke, Berry was called to testify before a Congressional committee. He has made multiple media appearances, and now works as a paid speaker on these issues. His current Web activities involve educating the public about Internet safety.
Eichenwald and The New York Times
In June 2005, The New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald discovered Berry via a post made by Berry to a Yahoo! message board for his fans. Eichenwald contacted Berry anonymously on-line, telling Berry he was a songwriter (Eichenwald writes songs as a hobby) and asking to meet with him. Despite concerns that the anonymous contact might be a law enforcement officer, Berry accepted payment of $2,000 from Eichenwald on June 8, 2005 before agreeing to the meeting.
At the meeting, Eichenwald identified himself as a reporter and explained the true nature of his interest in Berry. Although Berry continued in the Internet pornography business after their initial meeting, in subsequent meetings, Eichenwald was able to gain Berry's confidence and an entry into his world.
Eichenwald requested demonstrations of the workings of Berry's online business which Berry provided, including live conversations with subscribers. After Berry revealed the identities of children who were being exploited by adults, Eichenwald persuaded him to discontinue the business and turn his information about those minors over to the authorities.
Eichenwald completed his research and writing, and, on December 19, 2005, The New York Times published "Through His Webcam, A Boy Joins A Sordid Online World", a feature-length story focusing on Berry's experiences as a "target" for "online pedophiles".
Interviews and Congressional testimony
Berry appeared with Eichenwald on the February 15, 2006 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss his story.
On April 4, 2006, Justin Berry appeared before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce to give testimony on "Sexual Exploitation of Children Over the Internet: What Parents, Kids and Congress Need to Know About Child Predators." In this testimony he stated that "My experience is not as isolated as you might hope.." and went on to detail his ordeal. He expressed frustration that more was not being done to bring the perpetrators to justice, specifically those who molested him. Members of the committee said his testimony had fueled a new effort to toughen up the laws against the producers and purchasers of child pornography. They also praised his courage in stepping forward, with one Congressman going so far as to suggest that any new legislation that emerged from this new effort to combat child pornography be named "the Justin Berry Act."
Berry testified that in 2001, when he was 15, a man from Michigan, Ken Gourlay, then 23, asked him to work for his company, Chain Communications, and encouraged him to attend Camp CAEN, a computer camp held in the summer of 2002 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In his testimony, Berry said that Gourlay had molested Berry while he was still two months short of his 16th birthday (the age of consent) while he was in Michigan attending this camp. The molestation changed him, Berry testified: "With the help of my family and my psychologist, I now understand that my molestation by Ken was a turning point that sent me on a path to self-destruction. Afterwards, Ken apologized, promising me it would never happen again. But it did." Berry and Gourlay continued their acquaintance even after Berry moved to Mexico, with Gourlay visiting him there at least once. Their acquaintanceship is confirmed by Gourlay's blog entries regarding an online conversation and a planned meeting with Berry. Gourlay was convicted in state court of several statutory counts of having sexual intercourse with Berry and another teen while both were under 16, and was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison.
Media appearances and other references
Berry, Eichenwald and Gourlay appeared on C-SPAN, giving testimony before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Berry and Eichenwald were interviewed on Larry King Live by its host, Larry King, on April 4, 2006. They were also interviewed by Katie Couric for NBC's morning talk show, Today. Berry also appeared on other television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show with Kurt Eichenwald and CTV CanadaAM.
On October 25, 2006, Berry, and Eichenwald were interviewed by Kathleen Brooks for The Darkness to Light Show: Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence. In August 2007, Berry appeared on the Australian version of 60 Minutes. He was interviewed about sexual predators as part of a larger segment on the subject.
Starting in 2006, Berry has worked as a paid public speaker and has secured professional representation. He now speaks to various groups regarding alcoholism and drug abuse, computers, current events, education, generation issues, and image/self-esteem. In July 2007, Berry created
InternetSafety.tv as a worldwide anti-child pornography resource.
- Berry's profile at Five Star Speakers
- Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World. Kurt Eichenwald. The New York Times. 19 December 2005.
- Seizures Hurt Memory, Ex-'Times' Reporter Says at National Public Radio
- Reporter's Essay: Making a Connection with Justin. Kurt Eichenwald. The New York Times. 19 December 2005.
- Editor's Note from The New York Times disclosing Eichenwald's failure to disclose a payment to Berry
- Sexual Exploitation of Children Over the Internet: What Parents, Kids and Congress Need to Know About Child Predators Testimony of Justin Berry before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. 4 April 2006.
- Portion of chat between Berry & Gourlay -- from archive.org's cache of blog
- Gourlay blog entry about a planned meeting with Berry -- from archive.org's cache
- Transcript of Larry King Live. CNN. April 4, 2006.
- Season 7 Episode List from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
- Review of Web by Bill Boushka, writer on LGBT topics
- "Web". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 7. Episode 21. 2006-05-09. NBC.
- Streaming Audio. Kathleen Brooks. The Darkness to Light Show: Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence. October 25, 2006.
- Dr. Phil: Behind the Lens: Child Pornography May 23, accessed May 30, 2012