Recently there was some mention in the news about how Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama had his attorneys contact an admitted pedophile to have pictures of Sen. Obama’s children removed from the pedophile’s website. What most of the media failed to mention is that this was all started by one woman. A blogger to be specific. I interviewed the blogmistress of Lost in Lima Ohio about it. We here in the crime-blogging community call her Lilo.
Trench: First would you mind explaining who Lindsay Ashford is.
Lilo: Lindsay Ashford is a self admitted pedophile, with a strong internet presence, maintaining roughly half a dozen website devoted to promoting pedophilia and actively participating in a message board devoted pedophiles who consider themselves “girl lovers”.
While he claims to reside somewhere in South America, his exact location isn’t know. He is often over zealous in his criticism of American laws pertaining to age of consent, and is known to frequently follow stories of missing children from the US, which has drawn questions relating to where he might actually be located. Among the pedophile related sites that he runs, he also maintains a site “dedicated” to missing children within the US, and has in the past drawn criticism from parents of some of the children featured there.
T: So how did you first hear about him?
L: Back in December of 2005, I happened to notice a search referral to my site that perked my interest. The search mentioned something about Elizabeth Smart, and her father being angered over photos of her on a website ran by a pedophile. Out of curiosity, and because so much of what I write about deals with sexual predators- I decided it was something I needed to look into. When I tracked down the pedophile, and the site Mr. Smart was so upset by, I “discovered” Ashford, and his sickening world of pro-pedophilia beliefs.
T: What was your reaction upon first seeing his site?
L: I was completely shocked. It wasn’t just the girllove forums, or his blatant agenda, but he also had a site that was geared towards attracting young girls to it. All pink, and harmless looking at a glance, once I began reading it, it was clear that the entire mini site was designed to lure young girls into a false pretense, grooming them into believe that sexual relationships between adults and young girls weren’t just proper- they were beneficial and special.
The more I looked into who this man really was, the more clear it became that he was an absolute danger to children, it wasn’t a question of whether he would act out his desires- but when.
T: So what actions have you taken in the past about Ashford?
L: One of the main problems with dealing with Ashford, is that he’s not just a lonely one person team out on the internet- he has a following that includes hundreds of pedophiles worldwide. At first, I tried to tackle the problem by posting about him, and just him. But, every time I did- I would suddenly be victim to having dozens of his fellow pedophile swamping the site, and I realized that I would have to shift my focus onto generalized actions of all of them. I found blogs connected to him via the “pedophile movement”, and reported them.
One of the biggest things I do, is monitor Ashford’s websites, and keep updated on what activities he and his group are doing online. Almost a year ago, I read about how they had raised donations in honor of Alice Day (which is simply a made up holiday they use to celebrate their perversions). They had sent the funds to a children’s charity, and then used the thank you letter to attempt to bring a sort of legitimacy to their group of pedophiles. They had even released a press statement, saying that the charity accepted them, and recognized their desires were upstanding. I contacted the charity, informing them of the situation and they were very thankful for it. They quickly responded, sending the funds back and demanding that Ashford remove any reference of the charity “accepting” them as a group.
T: And when was it that he started his “Presidential Endorsements” and could you explain that a little bit?
L: In April of 2006, Ashford published a post on his personal blog, in which he gave a run down of possible 2008 Presidential Candidates. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal- but being faithful to his style of deviant behaviors and actions, Ashford decided to use his own method of picking the “winner” from his group of hopefuls. Along with listing the politicians, he listed the daughters or granddaughters that they have. Each child was described by her looks and his thoughts on her possible demeanor, and of course he added photos of the children. He then went about using his attraction to each child to rate them on whether the parent or grandparent should be elected, until he picked his winner, and endorsed Senator Obama as the man whose daughters he was most attracted to and would most enjoy watching grow up in the White House.
T: I understand you contacted all of the candidates mentioned on Ashford’s site. How did they react?
L: First, making the calls wasn’t the easiest task in the world. Because I wasn’t sure exactly who to contact, or how to begin the conversations once I did manage to get someone on the phone, I held off on calling anyone. I really believed that because of Ashford’s status, because he’s been caught doing these sorts of things with missing children’s photos- that someone else was likely already on top of this. But, by June I realized that no one was taking any steps to stop him, so I sat about making a list of phone numbers.
When I actually sat down to make the phone calls, I had no idea how hard it would actually turn out to be. I spent about 12 hours on the phone that day, being transferred from person to person in various offices. Most of the first conversations with the respective Senate and Congressional offices left me feeling as if the people weren’t really sure what to do with me. But, I managed to speak to most of the Chiefs of Staff’s in the offices, or otherwise someone else on the high end of the office pole.
I would have to say that almost every response was filled with disgust, and concern- after the first moments of uncertainty. I had retold the story to one office more than a couple times, and provided the URL to the site, when it was requested that I inform Capital Police of the site. I did. In one of the last offices that I called, I was informed that the “rumor” had already been spreading, and that they’d heard they were likely to receive my call. Almost everyone I talked with was thankful that I’d taken the time, and I was assured that someone would be diligently working on this problem.
T: How many of the candidates took action that you know of?
L: Not one. Well, up until last week.
T: Which candidate was that and what action was taken?
L: It actually came from the one candidate that I had completely given up on doing anything about it, after the conversations that I had had with a member of his office back in June. But, recently I had decided to remind my readers of the post Ashford did on the topic, and as a result, another blogger took it a step further and decided to mention the situation on Obama’s campaign blog- stating that she had made it to the campaign’s website via a link on Ashford’s site. Although her comments were quickly met with anger, and deleted- within days the ball started rolling and Ashford posted a new entry mentioning my prior attempts to inform people. He also stated that this time around, someone had decided to listen, because he had received a cease and desist letter from the Senator’s lawyer. The letter was very detailed, demanding that all photos, references and links to Obama, Obama’s family, and Obama’s website be promptly removed.
T: Now this situation has received some media attention but as far as I know you were never given credit. Does this bother you?
Actually, what bothers me most is that while Obama’s response is making the news- no one is looking at the fact that more than a dozen little girls are still being put up for display on a site that caters to pedophiles.
As for getting credit- well knowing how the MSM likes to work with (or should I say completely ignore) crime bloggers- I was well aware that as long as I was the one putting the “scope” out there, it wasn’t going to get the attention that it deserved. So, I made clear efforts to pass it over to people who, just because of who they are and the connections they have, would easily be a great starting point in spreading this story. Sometimes, we have to be willing to put the story out there at whatever cost, even if it means that we lose the scope.
Don’t get me wrong, the grape vines in the crime blogging world might have to hear a bit of my ranting about being cut out of a story I was interviewed for, or being downplayed to just “an opponent” of Ashford’s by a major news station- but in the end, I’m just hoping that the silence of the other politicians will make as much news as the response of Obama did.
Thank you for your time Lilo.