One of the fears of many who have watched the Gosselin saga over the years has come true: An employee of TLC has been arrested for the distribution of child pornography. William Johnson Blankinship has worked as on online editor for TLC on Kate Plus Eight as well as other shows involving children.
Kate tweeted she's never heard of Blankinship but that's not the point. The point is that private images of her eight children were accessible to him because there were no legal protections in place to prevent it from happening. We do know that Kate allowed images of her children being filmed and aired that she no doubt never would have allowed to be taken of herself: Images of them sitting on the potty, undressed, having their diapers changed, and vomiting for example. If that's what we saw being considered acceptable fare for airing, God only knows what Blankenship could have collected from all the film considered inappropriate for airing. If he is a pedophile who gets off on this material he would've had the pick of the litter with all those thousands of hours of film, and if he used child porn for financial gain he could've made a mint on selling rare film of famous children to other pedophiles.
I've blogged about the PA Dept of Labor & Industry's slacking off when it comes to requiring all adults who work with children in entertainment in PA undergoing mandatory criminal background checks and child abuse clearances. This lack of corporate responsibility is further discussed in my interview with Paul Petersen and others in my book on the effects of reality TV on the Gosselin family. No, these safety measures wouldn't spot pedophiles who haven't been busted in the past, but at least those with records could be rejected as employees. Without these background checks any old pedophile can work for television production companies and have access to hours of private film of young children, not to mention sometimes having access to the children themselves.
In Pennsylvania anyone whose work “normally and regularly” brings them into contact with minors must meet these simple legal requirements. The papers are cheap and easy to fill out and must be completed by all daycare workers, school employees, and anyone else working with kids here in PA. I've blogged before about the mystery of not only why TLC does not perform this simple, inexpensive safety check on all of their employees, but also why the PA Dept of L&I hasn't required them to. It's one of the several examples of how children in entertainment in this state have fallen through the cracks of a system that protects other children but not them. The cracks have only widened and deepened since Jon & Kate Plus Eight began filming here and reality TV production came to PA.
Ironically, it was only two days ago that Kate slammed Paul Petersen on Twitter, despite his being the driving force behind working toward legislation to protect children in entertainment in this country. This is the same reality TV mom who allowed her very young children to be alone at various times with crew members who had not undergone the background checks, in such isolated places as bathrooms, the kids bedrooms, and in the woods outside the home. Efforts to remove the children from the public eye by the father have been repeatedly dashed to the extreme where she even went to a judge to have his refusal to allow filming overruled. Throughout it all and despite much evidence to the contrary, she has insisted that, unlike she who works hard, the kids have only played in front of the cameras.
One out of every three or four children in this country is sexually abused before the age of 18, and kids in entertainment are a natural target. Why hasn't a mother who desires (apparently VERY, VERY badly) to have her children in entertainment insisted that all possible precautions be in place to protect her children? And why hasn't a television network which calls itself The Learning Channel taken simple, inexpensive precautions to protect itself from the legal repurcussions that could result if the minors in its care are subjected to predators and criminals? And why haven't either utilized the free services of A Minor Consideration, which could guide them toward creating their exntertainment in ways that would be responsible to the minors involved? What will it take for these adults to consider this situation to be serious enough to actually do something about it? Because for most of us, or at least those of us who aren't monetarily invested in this situation, today the shit hit the fan.
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Article first published as TLC Employee Arrested for Child Pornography on Technorati.