CONTENTS AUGUST 5, 2000:
Click. Nearly half of all Net regulars 'have online affairs.'
Click. Inside the minds of Britain's most reviled sex offenders.
Click. "MUNCHAUSEN BY INTERNET" Some individuals may fake illness or crisis in Internet support groups to gain attention.
Click. HORMONES ALTERED IN DEPRESSED CHILD ABUSE SURVIVORS. Greater ACTH and Cortisol hormone response.
Click. CARNIVORE LAID BARE! It is functionally very similar to software written by Dr. Andrew Gross (of the Kevin Mitnick case) while he was the Principal Investigator of PICS in 1997.
Click. SELINA BISHOP, 28, DAUGHTER OF WOMAN EXECUTED IN WOODACRE (8/3/00) IS MISSING. Last known to have traveled to Yosemite (where Staynor allegedly executed mother & daughter and friend.)
Click. POLICE CLAIM SAUSALITO MAN SENT BARBIE DOLL TO JUDGE VERNA ADAMS DURING THE CAROL MARDEUSZ TRIAL. A PROVOCATEUR? AND FOR WHOM?
Click. HOW CARNIVORE CAN GET CUTE WITH YOU.
HOW CARNIVORE CAN GET CUTE WITH YOU.
Posted by Anonymous Coward.
You email Joe Blow regarding a post you saw on a forum about gardening. Little did you know that Joe Blow had earlier emailed someone else, whose email he got off a for sale newsgroup advertising hydroponics. Turns out the guy selling the hydroponics was suspected of selling drugs, because his hydro bill was high enough to set off a flag. Now Joe Blow is just a gardener, but he was dealing with a drug dealer, and now YOU are dealing with someone who has dealt with a drug dealer. You automatically have a "relationship" with a drug dealer based on an indirect contact. Carnivore can easily be used to setup such relationships, and programs like Crimelink can easily be used to give graphs and charts outlining any possible relationships. This means police and related agencies can establish a Whose-who in their ISPs neighborhood.
POLICE CLAIM SAUSALITO MAN SENT BARBIE DOLL TO JUDGE VERNA ADAMS DURING THE CAROL MARDEUSZ TRIAL. A PROVOCATEUR? AND FOR WHOM?
POLICE CLAIM SAUSALITO MAN SENT BARBIE TO JUDGE
by Guy Ashley © Marin Independent 8/4/00
A Sausalito man has been identified as the person who reportedly admitted to mailing a mysterious package to a Marin judge presiding over an explosive child abduction case last month.
Marin prosecutors moved yesterday to revoke Ronald J. Graser's probation from a previous public drunkenness case by citing admissions he reportedly made in connection with the cryptic mailing.
The package delivered to Superior Court Judge Verna Adams on July 18 contained a Barbie doll dressed in a judge's robe, with hair coifed in a style similar to Adams' blond mane. The package also included a newspaper article about missile launchers and a profane message, according sheriff's investigators.
The arrival of the package came during a volatile day in Adams' courtroom, during which a defense attorney in the trial of Carol Mardeusz called the judge a "whore'' for ruling against the defense on an evidentiary matter.
The attorney, Patricia Barry, was fined $1,000 for the outburst and spent a short stay in a courthouse holding cell.
Papers filed in court yesterday say that Graser, 58, told detectives that he had sent the package as a "joke'' and that he had been encouraged to do so by a "third party,'' who was not identified.
Peter Romanowsky of Sausalito, a friend of Marduesz and the leader of a recall campaign against three Marin judges and the county's chief prosecutor, said he has been acquainted for years with Graser and believes the suspect may have fingered him as the unidentified third party.
"When I spoke to him the other day he said to me, 'It was your idea, Peter Romanowsky,''' Romanowsky said. "He was joking. I certainly didn't have anything to do with this.''
Contact Guy Ashley via e-mail at
DAUGHTER OF SLAIN WOMAN MISSING.
By Gary Klien © 2000 8/5/00 Marin Independent Journal
The daughter of a woman shot dead in Woodacre early Thursday did not show up for work as expected yesterday, fueling fears in the close-knit valley that she had been slain by the same killers.
Investigators have been unable to find 28-year-old Selina Bishop since her mother and a companion were killed at Bishop's studio apartment at 257 Redwood Drive. Investigators did not say whether they think the killer is seeking Bishop - or may have already reached her - but said they were "concerned for her safety."
"She didn't show up for work," said Sheriff's Lt. Rick Russell. "We don't know where she is."
The killer remained at large yesterday and investigators did not report that they had identified a suspect. Police filed a missing-person report in the hopes of stirring up some clues as to Bishop's whereabouts.
"Selina's going to provide some real insight into this," Russell said.
Bishop's mother, 45-year-old Jenny Villarin of Novato, and a companion from Mendocino County, identified yesterday as 54-year-old James Gamble, were killed shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday as they were sleeping in Bishop's apartment.
Bishop - who is the daughter of Villarin and her ex-husband, blues guitarist Elvin Bishop - was on vacation this week, possibly in the Yosemite area. Villarin was house-sitting at the Wood-acre apartment while her daughter was away.
Because of the strong resemblance between Villarin and Bishop, police are investigating the possibility the shooting was a case of mistaken identity. But they are pursuing other strong leads, Russell said yesterday.
Investigators did say the shooting does not appear to be random and was likely committed by only one person. Neighbors heard numerous gunshots and saw a vehicle leaving the scene.
Selina Bishop worked at the Two Bird Cafe in San Geronimo and was scheduled to return to the job at 10:30 a.m. yesterday. Fretful friends and several investigators were there to meet her, but she never showed up.
It was unclear whether Bishop traveled alone to the Yosemite area. Police said Bishop was associated with a gray/blue 1984 Honda Accord. The California license plate is 4CQD822.
Bishop is described as 5 feet, 3 inches tall and 150 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at 479-2311.
Autopsies were performed on Villarin and Gamble yesterday. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Elvin Bishop, who lives in Lagunitas but was on tour in the Central Valley this week, was married to Villarin about 20 years ago and has since remarried. He could not be reached yesterday.
Bishop, 57, is probably best known for his song, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," which was near the top of the music charts in 1976.
IJ wire services contributed to this report.
Friends mourn loss of a gentle soul
By Rebecca Rosen-Lum © 8/5/00 Marin Independent Journal
Still sumptuous, white roses begin to nod in a narrow vase behind the bar at the Paper Mill Creek Saloon, Woodacre's watering hole. The day before Jenny Villarin's death, a customer presented them to her as a gift.
"She was a joy to everyone here," said Tomasina Wilson, Villarin's boss and her friend of 24 years. "I've know her since she was too young to come in here."
It is difficult to form a picture of the woman who died at 45 in a double murder in Woodacre Thursday. The one thing that is clear is that she was much loved in this earthy, somewhat bohemian community.
Villarin was found slain with her companion, James Gamble, while housesitting in her daughter's studio apartment. Some have speculated that the killer intended to take the life of her daughter, Selina Bishop, 22.
Selina Bishop's whereabouts are not known, and police have released an all-points bulletin on her.
Friends assembled at the Paper Mill Friday afternoon, most weary from a sleepless night.
Friend David Wilson recalled Gamble as someone "who was always ready to listen, always there for you."
They drank beers and soft-drinks and cranberry juice cocktails and fretted over the whereabouts of Selina.
"I'm afraid it's going to get uglier," said David Wilson.
Friends also shared anecdotes about Villarin and her daughter, whom they describe as unusually close.
According to longtime friend Maureen Kehoe, Villarin was born in Salinas to Native American and Filipino parents. She attended Saratoga High School with Kehoe and Gamble. Soon afterward, she settled in Fairfax.
Villarin was only 16 when she attended a concert at River City, a popular concert venue featuring the Sons of Champlin, Taj Mahal and the Elvin Bishop Blues Band.
"She was just a tiny little thing - so cute, so sweet," said her friend, Robin Seibach.
"You could hardly hear her," added Susan Thomas. "She spoke in a whisper."
Bishop "just swooped her right up," Thomas said. "She was just a baby."
He reportedly penned the songs, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" and "Jennifer" for her. He also fathered her daughter, Selina Bishop.
Villarin had a creative streak of her own: She did jewelry work for Marin designer Tabra - "making just the most beautiful things," according to Wilson.
But the marriage didn't work out.
"Oh, you know, in the music business, you meet so many people," Wilson said vaguely when asked what contributed to the breakup.
Villarin roomed with two of Wilson's daughters in the aftermath of her divorce from Elvin Bishop. He remarried and had a new family.
Villarin fell in love again, and moved to Philadelphia with her young daughter and a new paramour. The relationship faltered, but she stayed on for 12 years.
Her parents died within four months of each other about two years ago, Wilson said. A brother recently committed suicide.
And late last spring, Selina Bishop, at age 21, returned to California. Jenny followed soon afterward, settling in Woodacre. She worked at a store in Nicasio, then began waitressing at Rancho Nicasio and at the Paper Mill.
She and Gamble went on a Mexican cruise together. She had so much fun she was preparing to go on another, Wilson said.
And she also spent time with Selina.
"They would go to the movies together, shopping together," Wilson said. "When she was working here, Selina would bring her dinner."
When Villarin won a garden kit at a raffle, she made a gift of it to Wilson, knowing of her passion for gardening.
"She said, 'I didn't get you anything for Mother's Day. I want you to have this.' "
Across the street from the Paper Mill, a stretch of crisp white paper has been stapled to a redwood fence for friends' messages and artwork. Under it, friends have placed bouquets of flowers.
"This board is dedicated to Jenny Villarin and Uncle James," a sign reads. "We love you both."
"Jenny was a mentor person to a lot of young people," said Kehoe as she hand-painted a sun. "She had a real depth of soul."
Selina babysat Kehoe's stepdaughter.
She described Selina as a shy girl, and said she and her mother "were more like sisters than mother and daughter."
The only saving grace to the sad event was that "Jenny would have wanted it to be her rather than Selina" if someone were to forfeit their life, she said.
Villarin was preparing to give a class on jam-making this weekend to 30 young girls, aged seven to 14, at Dickson Ranch horse camp run by her longtime friend, Dawn Ellen.
Ellen sank down in a chair at a video screen in the bar and stuck up a game of computer solitaire. Pools of tears glistened in her eyes.
"The kids went out to feed the horses, and that's when I broke down," she said as the tears began streaming. "Selina was very, very sweet, very close to her mother. I remember how my uncle used to give birthday parties for Elvin at the ranch. At the last party, Selina was just a baby."
About a month ago, Ellen took Villarin up to Petaluma with her to Kodiak Jack's, a western bar.
"I said, 'Come on, dance with me.' She said, 'Well, OK, I'm a little rusty,' but she got out there."
The last time Thomas saw Selina Bishop she was waiting in line at her bank, and someone hugged her from behind.
"I turned around, and it was Selina," she said. "She had dyed her hair maroon. I said, 'Oh, what did you do to your hair?' and she laughed and said, 'Oh, come on, Susie.' "
Contact Rebecca Rosen-Lum via e-mail at
Statement of Tom Perrine
Computer Security Office, San Diego Supercomputer Center
Subcommittee on the Constitution
Monday, July 24, 2000
Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to testify on this important subject.
From the beginning of my career in computer security, I have always been an advocate of personal privacy, unrestricted personal access to strong encryption, and less government oversight and intervention in the lives of law-abiding citizens. In the course of my career I have also designed and developed computer systems to protect classified government information, deployed nation-wide security systems to protect privacy and intellectual property and consulted on computer security to educational institutions, the Department of Defense and public and private organizations. Due to my work in detecting and analyzing computer intrusions, I also understand and support legitimate law enforcement access to Internet traffic.
I believe that this current debate over the FBI's new digital wiretap tool, commonly known as "Carnivore", is really about the risks in naively attempting to simply translate the policies, law and practices of telephone wiretaps into the digital realm of the Internet. The Internet is fundamentally different from the telephone system. As we attempt to provide access to Internet traffic for the legitimate purposes of law enforcement, we must be exceptionally careful to avoid extending the scope and depth of current wiretap and surveillance access in new and unintended ways.
However, in order to get to the heart of the matter, it is necessary to describe the Carnivore system and describe its abilities to monitor the Internet. Additionally, I will describe how the Internet is different from the telephone system, and illuminate some problem areas that may open the door to extending the government's ability to monitor citizens in unintended and intrusive directions.
Privacy and Security at the San Diego Supercomputer Center
In my current duties, I wear two hats, one as a protector of privacy and the other as a security researcher.
As the security officer for the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) my primary and overriding mission is to protect the privacy and intellectual property of the users of the Center. SDSC is a national laboratory for computational science and engineering. With about 6000 users, several hundred computers and five supercomputers, including he world's 9th fastest supercomputer (Blue Horizon), with Terabytes of data and numerous high-speed network connections and we are under constant attack by would-be computer intruders. SDSC's users are performing basic research in fields as wide-ranging as astro-physics, engineering, life sciences, ecology and medicine. Premature publication, destruction, modification or theft of their data could have implications ranging from academic embarrassment through the theft of intellectual property worth millions (or possibly even billions) of dollars.
As a security researcher and the Principal Investigator of the Pacific Institute for Computer Security (PICS), I am constantly working to determine future threats to the computers attached to the public Internet, as well as threats to the actual Internet infrastructure itself. Researchers at PICS have in the past discovered software flaws in popular operating systems as well as vulnerabilities in the basic protocols of the Internet. I provided testimony on this topic to the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.
The San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Pacific Institute for Computer Security and other security activities are sponsored in large part by U. S. Government activities. These include the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the National Security Agency and the FBI. PICS' involvement with the FBI has been limited to a small amount of technical assistance for the San Diego office. PICS and other SDSC staff have provided expert testimony in cases involving child pornography and computer intrusions.
It was as a PICS researcher, discussing critical infrastructure vulnerabilities with the FBI, that I became aware of and was afforded a chance to see the hardware and software product known as "Carnivore". The date was June 20th of this year, and the location was the FBI's Engineering Research Facility (ERF) in Quantico.
There are several important issues at play here, and the capabilities and purpose of Carnivore may be the least important. All of my observations concerning Carnivore itself must be considered in the context of my very limited access to Carnivore. I can only testify about what I was told and what I observed concerning Carnivore over a very short period of time.
What is Carnivore?
First of all, what is Carnivore? In technical terms, Carnivore is a high-speed packet "sniffer" with aggressive filtering capabilities. It examines all the data packets passing through a network, and filters out data that does not meet its filtering criteria. In layman's terms, Carnivore is a digital wiretap capable of discarding all information that is not to or from or concerning the subject of the wiretap order.
In fact, other than its fancy, easy to use graphical user interface, and its ability to monitor high-capacity networks, Carnivore is not very different from the various packet sniffer programs available to network managers, system administrators, home computer users and so-called "hackers".
By analogy, if the network is the cellular phone system, packet sniffers are radio scanners, capturing or listening to all data that goes by in the air or on the wire. Also by analogy, Carnivore is a "smarter" scanner, capable of detecting and recording only those phone calls to or from a specific person, or containing certain key words, and not listening to all the other users of the cellular system.
Carnivore's major technical novelty is its apparent aggressive intent to avoid capturing data concerning those that are not the subjects of a wiretap order. It is functionally very similar to software written by Dr. Andrew Gross (of the Kevin Mitnick case) while he was the Principal Investigator of PICS in 1997.
Physically, Carnivore is a personal computer with a network interface, and ZIP or Jaz removable disk drive, running a version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, with the Carnivore software loaded. In order to use Carnivore, it must be physically attached to the network to be monitored. The Carnivore software has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) which presents the user with an easy-to-use way to describe the filters that are to be used in accepting (and recording) or rejecting network data seen by the system. The user interface was designed to be used by a less-technical user, such as an FBI Special Agent in the field. The version of Carnivore I saw, as it was described to me had few provisions for remote access to the gathered data, but did have the capability to be monitored itself from a remote site via telephone. As described to me, this was so that the technical support staff at the ERF could assist with technical problems, and so the assigned Special Agent could determine when the removable media needed to be changed. This remote access method would also allow a remote user to change the filtering criteria from a remote site via a telephone call.
As described to me, all gathered data was written to a ZIP or JAZ removable disk drive, and the data would be physically collected by a Special Agent visiting the site. There are issues involving the collection, storage, custody, and admissibility of digital evidence. I believe that this physical collection of the evidence is a conscious effort to move this "digital" evidence into the realm of physical evidence, which is well understood by and more comfortable to the legal system. Although the system is capable of transmitting some gathered data via the telephone connection, this is impractical given the relative bandwidth of the telephone and the high-speed networks being monitored.
What is Carnivore Not?
Carnivore does not appear (on its face) to be an ECHELON-like "monitoring infrastructure", capable of real-time monitoring of millions of phone calls and network connections. Based on my limited examination of Carnivore, and technical discussions with its developers, it appears to be a tool specifically designed to meet the rigid requirements of a Title III wiretap order. Such an order is supposed to be a narrowly drawn and rigidly interpreted permission from a judge to monitor the electronic activities of a specific person or persons.
Quite frankly, Carnivore appears to be the best available technology to try to implement the limited permissions to monitor granted by a judge. The device is capable of filtering out information concerning those not subject to the wiretap order.
However, Carnivore is just a tool, and its capabilities must be considered in the context of how it could be used, the potential for intentional and unintentional abuse, and the critical need to consider the privacy and constitutional rights of citizens.
Privacy is "Extrinsic" to technology
Carnivore is just a tool. It is a tool that appears to be designed to be able to allow the FBI to balance the rights of citizens against the permission to monitor granted by a judge in a wiretap order. However, it is how the tool is used that will actually determine whether or not the privacy of innocent and uninvolved people will be violated.
Carnivore has the ability to filter out all "un-allowed" information, but like any network sniffer, the actual data collected or rejected is a matter of the configuration of the device. It is obvious that there is nothing to stop a person from using Carnivore (or any other packet sniffing tool) to gather all the network information they can store.
The fundamental issue really boils down to:
How do we balance the government's legitimate need to monitor suspects in ongoing criminal investigations without trampling the rights of other citizens who happen to share the Internet with them?
Carnivore appears to be an attempt to strike such a balance. However,
It still may open too many possibilities for abuse, error and other unintended consequences.
Any technology, once created, can be abused. Automobiles enabled bank robbers in fleeing across state lines; and pagers, cellular and portable telephones enable the illegal drug dealer. Packet sniffers are one tool of the "hacker", but are also needed by the network manager. These are all "dual-use" technologies, having both legitimate and non-legitimate uses. It is the use that determines intent and effect; the technology just enables the capabilities.
Of course, the ultimate concern of citizens should be the possibility of "mass monitoring" of all the users at an Internet Service Provider (ISP), a company, a University, or a state or a country. The technology already exists, it is simply a matter of time and money to deploy this technology on the scale required to achieve the goal.
The Internet is Different
The Internet is fundamentally different from the original analog telephone system. This is important to understand, because almost all of our legislation, legal precedent and practice in monitoring the Internet are derived from the old analog telephone system.
The telephone system is a collection of tightly integrated systems, operated by various companies, sharing a common switching technology. Without this underlying common technology, the various parts of the system would be unable to communicate with each other in order to provide a telephone connection between the callers. In the telephone world, a wiretap order is often implemented the telephone service provider. In this case, the law enforcement agency delivering a directive to the operators of the subject's telephone service provider, and the service provider performs whatever action is needed to provide access to the subject's telephone calls. The calls are typically voice, not too frequent, and listened to in "real time" by people, in addition to any recordings that may be made. All of these factors provide a "gating" function that limits the scale and scope of any surveillance activities. It is simply infeasible for the government to implement wide-scale monitoring of large numbers of people, due to the need for cooperation from the telephone service providers and the labor-intensive nature of the surveillance. This is likely a major reason that the National Security Agency and other government agencies have long sponsored basic research in speech recognition.
However, the Internet is fundamentally different, and with Carnivore and other systems, the monitoring activity is different as well. It is apparent that the digital nature of the Internet allows a wider net to be cast, at a lower cost than in the telephone world. The Internet is a digital medium, and most of its data remains text-based. These two attributes combine to make it very easy to use computers to process large amounts of collected data. Textual data is much easier and cheaper to process than voice telephone, for example. Also, the government installs Carnivore with little or no participation from the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP has no way of knowing what data is being gathered or who the target of the wiretap may be. As previously mentioned, the filtering done by Carnivore can be changed remotely, without the knowledge of the ISP, as well.
All of these factors combine to provide a capability that is broader and more scalable than in the analog telephone world, for which most of the wiretap statutes were written.
It is important to ensure that any digital wiretap capability and law does not allow what Dr. Steve Bellovin of AT&T calls "scaling up to oppression". It should remain relatively expensive for the government to monitor its citizens, so that this capability will be reserved for those exceptional cases that warrant electronic surveillance and discourage casting a wide net that will gather in information about unintended bystanders.
Any digital wiretap systems and law must provide the same protections, checks and balances that exist in the telephone world. It is not obvious that this is currently the case. It seems likely that the "law of unintended consequences" applies and that current digital wiretap capabilities and legal constraints do not provide the same protections as in the telephonic environment.
Control, Oversight and Accountability
If a "dual-use" technology, such as Carnivore and other network monitoring tools exists, the only way to protect against mis-use is to find ways to discourage, or punish abuse.
This is explicitly embodied in current wiretap law, where there are consequences ranging from inadmissibility of evidence up to criminal prosecution for an improperly performed wiretap. But in order to impose these consequences, the improper activities must be discovered. Also, by the nature of a telephonic wiretap, the scope of the wiretap is limited to a small number of telephones and the people who use them. With a digital wiretap, such as Carnivore, only the FBI knows who is the subject of the wiretap, and whether or not data concerning other people is actually being gathered.
It would be trivial for the FBI to monitor ten or a hundred or a thousand (or more) people with a single Carnivore system, using a wiretap order which only authorized monitoring of a single subject. Essentially there is no way for any outside entity to know the configuration of the filters in a Carnivore system, or the true capabilities of the Carnivore system without examining the source code of the system during installation and during the monitoring itself.
Carnivore and Open Source
The ACLU and others have called for publication of or access to the source code of the Carnivore system. While interesting, this is unfortunately insufficient to determine the true capabilities of a particular Carnivore system as installed for any given wiretap order. A function of a Carnivore system is determined both by the program and the filter configuration active at any moment in time.
A one-time publication or review of the source code would provide only a "snapshot" of Carnivore's capabilities, and it might be difficult to prove that the Carnivore program installed at an ISP was actually built from the sources reviewed. Since Carnivore is under constant development, the snapshot reviewed would be out-of-date within a few weeks. A review of the source code would not indicate the filters installed in a Carnivore system at any given time.
In the computer security and cryptography communities, no claims are accepted until programs or algorithms have undergone public scrutiny and peer review. Typically, security-relevant software then remains in the public purview, with many contributors making incremental improvements and continuing the review process. For our computers, and those at any site truly concerned with security, Open Source security tools are compiled from publicly available, peer-reviewed source code. These programs are widely trusted because it is believed that this public scrutiny would find and publicize most flaws and any "secret" functions. This affords a high level of confidence that these programs perform their stated functions properly, and not perform any inappropriate functions.
It may be that to provide this level of confidence, that the source code for Carnivore might need to become publicly available, and that ISPs be permitted to acquire, examine, compile and configure the Open Source Carnivore software. Interestingly, this is more analogous to the current telephonic wiretap (installed by the telephone service provider), than the current use of Carnivore.
The issue of Carnivore is not really about technology. It is really about the attempts of the government to extend its lawful and appropriate access to electronic communications into the digital Internet realm. It seems that in the process of applying laws, policies and procedures into the digital realm, that the privacy of citizens has been eroded in ways not intended or permitted under the original wiretap legislation, current practice or Supreme Court decisions.
The FBI will always have to live with the legacy of the Hoover era, just as the Congress will have to constantly compare itself with the McCarthy hearings, and the Executive Branch must always remember Watergate. These and other incidents from our country's history have contributed to an unfortunate general distrust of our public institutions when they concern themselves with the rights of our citizens.
I continue to have the utmost regard for the Special Agents it has been my good fortune to meet and work with. I understand and support their need for legal and proper access to the electronic communications of those subject to investigation for serious crimes. The challenge will be to provide the intended monitoring abilities that are reasonable and proper in the digital area.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Subcommittee, thank you for your attention in the matter, and for the opportunity to provide this testimony.
WESTPORT, Aug 02 (Reuters Health) - Researchers from Emory University have demonstrated what appears to be a hormonal basis for the increased risk of adult psychopathology in individuals subjected to early childhood abuse. According to their report in the August 2nd issue of The Journal of American Medical Association, these results suggest a role for prophylaxis in the prevention of mood and anxiety disorders in such individuals.
Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff and colleagues in Atlanta, Georgia, prospectively evaluated 13 women who were sexually or physically abused as children and who were currently diagnosed with major depression; 14 women with a history of abuse, but no current diagnosis of major depression; 10 with a diagnosis of depression, but no history of abuse; and 12 controls. The women underwent testing of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol levels during a standardized psychosocial laboratory stressor.
"Women with a history of childhood abuse and a current major depression diagnosis exhibited a more than 6-fold greater ACTH response to stress than age-matched controls" the investigators report. Similar trends were observed for cortisol responses, "with abused women with current depression exhibiting higher cortisol responses than all other groups."
Women with a past history of abuse but who were not currently depressed exhibited hormone levels intermediate between the depressed, traumatized subjects and those with no history of abuse.
Co-author Dr. D. Jeffrey Newport told Reuters Health, that the "group of people who are not currently ill but who are at risk of becoming ill...still showed some biological difference in response to a stressful situation."
"We know from epidemiologic data that [adults with a childhood history of abuse] are at high risk of becoming depressed, having anxiety disorders and of having substance abuse disorders," Dr. Newport continued. "This line of research says we have a biological target that may be of use in offering prophylactic treatment. In so doing we would be providing preventive medicine, which is new territory for psychiatry."
Dr. Nemeroff's group is currently investigating corticotropin-releasing factor receptor antagonists for the prevention and treatment of disorders related to early-life stress.
The research group chose to look at women because "the rates of being victimized by sexual abuse are much higher in girls than boys," Dr. Newport told Reuters Health.
However, he "anticipates that results would be the same" if similar research were conducted with men. "I say that because we know that stress-related disorders in men and woman have an impact on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function that doesn't tend to separate out."
In the July issue of the Southern Medical Journal, he presents 4 of 21 cases of this phenomenon that he learned about, through his Web site, from deceived participants of such Internet support groups.
In the first case, an individual describing herself as a young woman joined an Internet cystic fibrosis support group claiming to be in the terminal stages of the disease. A few days later, the group received a message supposedly sent by a relative who had been caring for the young woman, saying that she had died. Members of the group noted inconsistencies, and after questioning, the individual admitted she had made up the entire story and taunted the group for being so gullible.
In the second case, an individual claiming to be a 15-year-old boy joined a Usenet group for people with migraine headaches. He wrote moving about his intractable migraines, hemophilia, and seizure disorder. Over time, he also made contradictory statements such as that he played drums in a nightclub and was a fourth-year medical student. Again, the inconsistencies caused group members to question the individual, who stopped posting to the group, claiming that "they had violated the 'spirit' of the Internet."
In the third case, a woman claiming to be the mother of a baby girl with cystic fibrosis posted to a bulletin board for children with special needs. After receiving information on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) from a mother with a child who had the disease, the woman reported weeks later that her child had died of RSV. The mother noted inaccuracies, but other members of the group did not believe that the woman had faked the disease until they contacted the hospital and funeral home and found that no information existed on the child.
The final case concerned a man and a woman who met in an Internet chat room. He received messages from someone claiming to be the woman's father, who reported that the woman had been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. Weeks later, she reported a sadistic physical assault and rape by a family friend. The man also received messages from another man claiming to be the woman's friend. The writing styles of these people were remarkably similar, and after several more reported assaults and tales of misfortune, the man "reluctantly realized that he had been manipulated into expending vast amounts of time and displaying concern."
"These case reports illustrate that individuals sometimes go online to deliberately provide misinformation about their own medical and personal histories, and that they may do so because it is inherently gratifying," Dr. Feldman writes. "In most cases, group members' discovery of the ruse leads initially to gentle questioning; the typical response is a protest of innocence and an allegation of cruel mistreatment by the group, followed by disappearance."
"Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the range of medical information and communication formats on the Internet, since it may influence the questions asked and decisions made by their patients," he continues. "Physicians who participate in online discussions, or counsel patients who do, must recognize and openly discuss both the potential and the peril of this new medium."
South Med J 2000;93:669-672.
James is a high-risk sex offender. Since the News of the World naming and shaming campaign began almost three weeks ago, James has lived in fear of being identified. He has refused the passport but knows it is available, should he need to disappear quickly.
James - not his real name - is 34 and is adamant he is not a paedophile now but concedes that he was for a very long time. He abused a number of boys, one as young as six, whom he had befriended. He was released on licence from prison in July 1998 and, he claims, has not reoffended.
Young and attractive, willing to help build treehouses or give boys rides on bikes, James was able to draw children to him easily. What began as flashing escalated into serious sexual abuse. Since he was 18 he has served three sentences for his assaults.
These days, James has a job. He lives near London and has friends. He also has the odd minder. Because he is classed as a high risk, he is visited by officers from a police paedophile unit and is the subject of surveillance - sometimes covert, sometimes overt. He also has a very sceptical probation officer. Because he is classed as high risk he was interviewed by officers investigating the murder of Sarah Payne.
James is talking the talk and walking the walk. The jargon of therapy sits well with him - he was a "groomer" and he "owns" his crimes. He has done a few treatment programmes and has achieved a superconfidence from the belief that he has made himself better. His eyes dart around nervously at first but as he recounts details of his crimes he pins your eyes down, watching for a twitch of disgust.
Like most other sex offenders, James opened the last two editions of the News of the World with trepidation. Had he been named, he would almost certainly have lost his job. Speaking before the newspaper's announcement yesterday that it was suspending its campaign, he said he was prepared to "give a kicking" to anyone who "grassed" him and sent his name to the paper.
Since the campaign began, agencies working with offenders have warned that vigilante attacks will lead to serious offenders going underground. Without controls and with an increase in stress, the paedophile is much more likely to reoffend. Some probation officers have reported that one or two of their supervisees have disappeared.
James says the threat of exposure does not tempt him to go to ground but he did do so before: easily. When police were looking for him after his last offence he went to the Netherlands, where he used prison contacts and hooked up with a paedophile ring. He was caught and extradited and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment, of which he served five.
James knows networks of paedophiles at home and abroad. He used to let them have videos of his offences. He maintains that it took him three years in prison before he stopped associating with them but he could get back in touch any time. James believes he knows the workings of their minds.
Quite calmly, he says: "The impact [of the outing campaign] is pretty simple, really. These guys will go on the run - they are not going to stand around waiting for a kicking or have their windows put in or firebombed. They will say to themselves, 'I am on the run now and I have a list of 20 to 30 paedophiles.' What's to stop them all getting together and all going underground or abroad?
"They are going to feel a lot safer than being alone. They will think, 'Well, we are wanted by society, our picture is going to be in the paper. OK, well I will go and snatch a kid off the street.' They are facing a life sentence anyway."
James points out that most prolific sex offenders have a network they have built up of many hundreds of people, a network that can be relied on quickly: for disappearance or pleasure.
"I do know of a lot of paedophiles that aren't on the registers at the moment that have disappeared. I know two of the people who were outed last Sunday and they told me years ago that if they were ever outed they would disappear.
"The public wants to know that their children are safe but the way their children are going to be safe is to let the professionals deal with this situation. If they continue with this they are going to end up getting some kid killed."
Like James, Clive does not fit the stereotype of the paedophile. He is trendily dressed in jeans, sweatshirt, chunky shoes. He is clean and bright. Like James, he does not look how a paedophile is supposed to look.
The panic over the murder of Sarah Payne has caused us to misuse labels, to forget that only a tiny proportion of the 110,000 men regarded as convicted sex offenders fall into the category of predatory paedophiles who abduct children. Most are minor offenders or, like Clive, have abused members of their own family. Clive, 42, was convicted of indecent assault against his girlfriend's little sister. During the course of the police investigation it emerged that he had also abused his own sisters, offences that began when he was nine. Clive was given a four and a half year sentence of which he served three years, and is now on licence until January 2002.
Like James, Clive believes he has stopped offending. He went through the sex offenders' treatment programme in prison and claims that he now avoids stressful situations, which he has identified as leading to his previous pattern of offending. He says: "I am absolutely certain that I won't reoffend. I am a different person from what I used to be. I read a lot of books on Buddhism, shamanism and philosophies and that helps me. I am more educated now and know what's wrong."
Clive produces pages of A4 on which he has written lengthy notes about the News of the World campaign. He lists the effects of naming and shaming: "shopping will be difficult", and "socialising will be virtually non-existent". But, importantly, he says the campaign has increased stress levels, depression and fear and lowered self-esteem; all factors that can combine to trigger reoffending.
Clive has met many paedophiles who are untouched by their offences and fears their reaction to outing. "Most sex offenders will not endanger their own life," he says. "The risk of reoffending increases if prison is the only alternative means of safety. If you have nowhere else to go and you know prison is the only place you can go, then you may as well reoffend.
"Those that have not been convicted or caught may use alternative, more severe means in gaining a victim so as not to get caught. The most severe means is obviously murder. There's very few sex offenders I would say that are high risk, but the ones that are high risk are capable."
He believes disclosure only reinforces the idea that offenders can never be allowed to change, thus giving them a justification for their behaviour. He thinks children who threaten to expose known sex offenders may be at risk.
Clive is, of course, also worried for himself. His girlfriend has not told her family about his past. "She would have a lot to answer to," he says. "She thinks that her brother will actually beat her up. She's certainly incredibly scared.
"I can understand people's point of view, why they don't want me to come out or mix with them. I think the way forward is to accept that I must have a second chance. If I fail again then fair enough, give me life."
Forty-nine-year-old John knows what it is like to be exposed. He has been beaten up on a number of occasions, verbally abused and taken for the serious sex offender that justice decided he was not.
John is on two years' probation for indecent assault. He says that on two occasions he put his hand on a boy's bottom and on his back and he was eventually prosecuted for it. He denies any further assault but admits he is not sure what might have happened. The court considered it a minor offence but his local community did not.
John fears wider exposure, not for himself but for his family. And he is also worried about the effect any disclosure would have on his victim. "It wasn't a serious offence but it was still an offence and the victim needs protecting," he says.
"Given what happened I can understand people's anger but this isn't the answer. As far as I am concerned they are using a child's death to make money."
All names have been changed.
Nearly half of all Net regulars 'have online affairs.'
The internet is the most efficient means of obtaining sexual stimulation, arousal and gratification, a psychologist suggested yesterday.
The preoccupation with online sex among more than 17,000 internet users questioned in a study by Dr David Greenfield led him to conclude that many people were risking their real relationships in favour of indulging their fantasies at their computers.
Presenting his findings at the American Psychological Association's annual conference in Washington, Dr Greenfield said: "When it comes to sexual behaviour, the internet is a virtual petri dish of activity, including cyber-sex, cyberaffairs, chatrooms, e-mail, pornography and adult catalogues and personal ads. There is, perhaps, no more efficient a means to obtain sexual stimulation, arousal and gratification than the internet."
Many psychologists believe that people choose the internet for sexual flirtation because they think online sexual behaviour is safe and anonymous.
However, many develop addictive behaviour, whose critical "risk signs" include: an obsession with getting online (people may rush home from work to log on, for example); anxiety caused by not using the internet for a couple of days; and lying about the time spent online, said Dr Greenfield, who works for the Centre for Internet Studies and Psychological Health Associates.
Referring to the internet as "the virtual drug of choice" he warned that sexual relationships rarely remained in cyberspace. Four out of ten people interviewed who admitted to having flirted and talked about sex online said they had quickly become intimate with their online "friend", and spent, on average, 13 per cent of their time talking to their cyber-sex partner. More than half ended up making telephone contact with their online partner.
Nearly two-thirds of what he classified as "regular internet users" were putting their relationships and jobs at risk by indulging in some form of sexual behaviour in cyberspace, the study said. Fifty-seven per cent admitted to flirting on the Net and 42 per cent had online affairs. "The combination of the powerfully psychoactive nature of the internet itself, along with the stimulating nature of its sexual content, seems to create an almost irresistible combination for some individuals," he said.
Of those judged to be "average" internet users, 40 per cent admitted to viewing adult pornography sites for an average of 90 minutes a week.
Of all those interviewed, one-third said their boundaries of decency changed when they talked about sex in cyberspace, showing that the internet had triggered new forms of sexual deviancy, Dr Greenfield said. "The internet can exacerbate a prior tendency towards compulsive sexual behaviour or, in some cases, create a problem that was essentially non-existent prior to beginning internet use."
A separate study, by Dr Kimberly Young, the director of the Centre for Online Addiction in Bradford, Pennsylvania, indicated that a new generation of paedophiles was being created online because thousands of people were developing a sexual interest in children while using their computers.
Researchers from the centre had found that the ease of obtaining material in cyberspace, a lack of controls and the perception of anonymity had led to an increasing number of people acting out child sex fantasies, Dr Young said. "A disturbing number of cases involved first-time offenders. In fact, their sexual interest in minors occurred exclusively in cyberspace," she said.