J. Countess/WireImage(NEW YORK) — John Grisham has issued an apology after commenting to the British newspaper The Telegraph that punishment for child pornography offenses can be too harsh.
The best-selling author of such books as The Firm and A Time to Kill said America’s judges had “gone crazy” over the past 30 years by imprisoning far too many people. He said, “We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child.”
He added, “But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”
Grisham told the story of a law school friend who was imprisoned after he was caught in a Canadian child porn sting operation when his “drinking was out of control.” He said his friend “went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff — it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. He shouldn’t ‘a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys. He didn’t touch anything.”
Grisham declared that while he has no sympathy for “real pedophiles,” “so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that’s what they’re getting.”
The interview resulted in backlash against the author, who on Thursday posted an apology on his website. It reads, “Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography — online or otherwise — should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.”
The statement continues, “I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all.”
Grisham’s latest book, Gray Mountain, will be released next week.
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