After the truth was out, Justin says his father didn't stop him from producing pornographic material...he actually offered to help "maximize the earning potential," Justin says.
Justin says that with his father's assistance, he created his most sophisticated website yet. Before long, the website had more than 1,000 adult subscribers who paid monthly fees to watch Justin perform in live sex shows.
Justin, who was 16 years old at the time, was having sex with prostitutes and broadcasting it on the Internet as many as three times a day. He says his father helped by finding women to sleep with him. "It's disappointing to think that your own dad would do that," Justin says looking back.
At first Justin enjoyed the website's financial success, but he began using drugs and found his life spiraling out of control. He didn't know who to turn to... until he met Kurt Eichenwald, a reporter for The New York Times.
Kurt Eichenwald, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, was on the Internet researching a story on fraud. The last thing he expected was information regarding a child pornography website. Its star was a young boy named Justin. Kurt says it was "a moment of horror. ... I knew this was a kid who was in enormous danger," he says.
Kurt read more of the online discussions and discovered that these men were talking about where Justin was, where he had been and what he had done...they were completely involved in Justin's life, Kurt says. He decided that someone needed to help Justin.
Kurt managed to track Justin down via the Internet. After several online conversations, Kurt gained his trust and Justin agreed to meet him at a Los Angeles airport.
When Kurt first saw Justin, Kurt says Justin was emaciated and addicted to drugs. "He looked like he hadn't slept in weeks," Kurt remembers. "He was probably in the worst shape of any teenager I've ever had a conversation with."
Over time, Justin learned to trust Kurt and began heeding his advice. "I remember someone caring and telling me to stop using drugs," Justin says. "I don't know why I listened to him, to be honest. But I know every time that I listened, things got better."
Justin opened up to Kurt and described the dark underworld of "camkids"—children who use webcams to produce pornography. He also described how credit card corporations and other adult enterprises helped him operate his business. Kurt knew that this story wasn't just about Justin—there were many more victims out there.
"By that point, I knew that this kid was at the center of a massive criminal enterprise—that he knew everything," Kurt says. "I had to get him to flip on a business that was paying him thousands of dollars a week. I had to get him to the point where he was sober so that he could talk to me. And he said, 'I'll do it.'"
Justin says he shut down his website and quit using drugs. For the next six months, he became Kurt's guide into the webcam pornography business. His research led to the December 19, 2005, publication of Kurt's front-page The New York Times exposé on the dark underworld of child webcam pornography. "I was introduced to a world that I didn't know existed," Kurt says. "I saw a pornographic website that had hundreds and hundreds of webcam videos of children. I have never worked on anything that has made me so upset. I have seen things that nobody should ever see."
Kurt says that Justin's detailed records—five years' worth of saved online chats and financial transactions—will help prosecute Justin's predators, but reading back through such abusive conversations was an emotionally difficult task. "They said things to this child that you would not say to a dead prostitute," Kurt says.
Justin has given the FBI and other authorities his records and credit card transactions to help in the identification of predators. Kurt has also investigated Justin's records and his findings are shocking. Of 1,500 customers, Kurt researched a sample of 300. He says he found that some were pediatricians, teachers and counselors. One man, who works as a lawyer representing children, had e-mailed Justin asking to meet him personally.
Kurt's findings deeply troubled Justin. "It frightened me so much to think that these people ... are around kids all day long," Justin says. "It just killed me."
Even though Justin's name was blacked out in federal documents, the alleged offenders were easily able to figure out his identity. Word spread quickly through the child pornography community, and Justin says he has received multiple death threats.
Kurt believes there is "absolutely no reason" for any child to have a webcam. "Every webcam in every child's room in America should be thrown out today," he says.
Justin's story, while shocking, is only one case in a huge industry that is destroying hundreds of children's lives. "They are being lured into it from their bedrooms," Kurt says. "That's the reason [Justin] is here today. He wants parents to understand what's happening behind closed doors."
Justin says he is as surprised as anybody by the dark turn his life took at age 13. "I never would have guessed that would happen to me," he says. "This can happen to any kid."
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