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Grassley asks DOJ why ‘serial viewer of pornography’ can serve as assistant U.S. attorney without action

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to know why the U.S. Department of Justice has allowed “a serial viewer of pornography” to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney without taking immediate action.

In a letter dated July 7, Grassley notes that he became aware of an incident involving an unnamed Assistant U.S. Attorney due to a report he and U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn requested from the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General that provides information on closed investigations, evaluations and audits not disclosed to the public.

“This report contained what appears to be an inexcusable mishandling of serious allegations against an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) which calls into question the DOJ’s internal controls and prosecutorial discretion,” wrote Grassley.

The report from the OIG states that an investigation concerning allegations that an AUSA was using his government computer to view inappropriate material was conducted.

The investigation determined that the AUSA routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA’s government computer. The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined prosecution. Disciplinary action against the AUSA is pending.”

“This report relates to OIG investigations from October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011 and was submitted two months later,” said Grassley. “As the case for disciplinary action is ‘pending’ as of May 31, 2011, this means that, at the very least, the DOJ has allowed an admitted serial viewer of pornography — possibly child pornography — to serve as an AUSA for two months, if not longer, and has yet to take action. This is simply unacceptable and compounds the questions raised by the fact that this AUSA was found to have ‘at least one image of child pornography’ on his government computer and yet he was not charged with a crime.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has long worked against would-be and existing child pornographers. By the mid-1980s, according to its official website, the agency believed that most trafficking of the images had been squelched. But then technology emerged that allowed for greater anonymous transfer of images, and low-cost ways of producing them.

The agency’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, or CEOS, currently works with all U.S. Attorney offices throughout the nation as well as other investigative agencies to combat an industry that has exploded in the wake of technological advances. CEOS often works with local law enforcement in an attempt to identify the victims used to produce child pornography.

It is unknown if the AUSA investigated by federal authorities was working with CEOS.

Grassley’s letter is embedded below.

Sen. Chuck Grassley letter to AG Eric Holder

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