Those sites still exist, however, including the one for the girl called Sparkle. Another site features a prepubescent girl named Lolly— a widely used online code word for pornographic images of girls. There are even sexualized images of a girl called Baby, who appears younger than 5 and whose photographs seem to go back as far as her second birthday or earlier, when she was still in diapers.
The marketing makes clear that this is no typical modeling company.
"Call 911 before viewing!!!" proclaims the site for Sparkle, which shows her in a thong so revealing that she appears to be naked below the waist. The ad for the site uses words that echo those cited in the Knox decision, reading, "Only 9 years old! Hot!"
Other PlayToy sites are more explicit. "Feel her breathe on your face, take a gentle touch from your screen, open your mind and push the limits," reads the site for the girl called Lolly. "If you are ready to handle this trip, PlayToy Lolly is calling."
An advertisement for another PlayToy site, featuring a girl called Peach, declares, "A peach has never looked so delicious. * *8 years old* *."
The site includes a picture of the young girl wearing a tank top pulled off one shoulder. Directly below that is a purple emblem with the company name and the words, "Nonnude website: 100% legal."
But experts said that assurance was almost certainly not true. Based on the ages of the children, the marketing words and customer comments on the PlayToy sites described to him by The Times, a lead lawyer in the Knox case said that the subscribers had plenty of reason to worry.
"They shouldn't have any comfort that they are not breaking the law," said Edward W. Warren, a partner from the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis who helped to argue Knox as a representative of 234 members of Congress who joined the case. "This sounds worse and more graphic and more grotesque than what we were dealing with, particularly given how young the children are."
The assurance by the company that the sites are lawful is irrelevant to any potential prosecution, experts said. Indeed, in the Knox decision, the court held that defendants could be found guilty if they were aware of the "general nature and character" of images that they bought involving clothed children in sexual poses.