Child sex dolls, the newest outlet for pedophiles, must be banned

It’s a uniquely vile person who preys on children to fulfill horrific pedophilic urges. During my 20 years as a prosecutor, I put away animals who played out their disgusting fantasies on innocent children. What I saw and heard was enough to make anybody sick.

Now, as a legislator in Congress, I’m introducing a bill to ban the newest outlet for pedophiles: child sex dolls. These lifelike, anatomically accurate recreations of young children include “accessories” such as false eyelashes, wigs, warming devices, and cleaning tools.

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They don’t belong in our neighborhoods.

Society and the law have long sought to prevent sexual crimes against children, and that should extend to behaviors like peddling child sex dolls that enable or reinforce pedophilia. These awful dolls endanger our children by providing near-real life training for the worst among us to target the most vulnerable among us. Once a child sex abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to an innocent child.

In fact, emerging psychology on the topic says these obscene dolls encourage abuse of real children. Peter Fagan from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recently told The Atlantic that child sex dolls likely have a “reinforcing effect” on pedophiles, and “in many instances cause [the urge] to be acted upon with greater urgency.”

Some proponents of child sex dolls, most notably Shin Takagi, an admitted pedophile who runs a child sex doll manufacturing company in Japan, argue that the dolls offer a safe outlet for urges that would otherwise be carried out on living children. It is absurd on its face to argue that permitting sexual abuse against a realistic portrayal of a child somehow stops pedophiles from viewing real children as sexual outlets for their sick desires.

In the United Kingdom, which already has a ban similar to the one I’ve introduced, authorities have seized 128 dolls this year. Eighty-five percent of the men who imported them were also found in possession of child pornography. These individuals didn’t use the dolls as a substitute. They used them to supplement their stash of kiddy porn. As a father, it terrifies me to think of the additional harm these perverts could have caused if authorities hadn’t tracked them down through their sex doll imports.

What’s more, Mr. Takagi’s position transfers responsibility for restraining pedophilic behavior from the perpetrator to society. Mr. Takagi is in effect arguing that our culture must accept that pedophiles will act out against children, and it’s on us to decide whether we prefer they use inanimate dolls or our sons and daughters. That is, of course, a backwards and dangerous way to approach an issue so critical to child safety.

Some may also argue that not enough academic research exists to legislate on this matter. The United Kingdom and Australia have already banned child sex dolls, though, and leading academics have already weighed in. Based on my decades of experience prosecuting child molesters, I don’t accept for a minute that child sex dolls do anything but encourage more serious predatory behavior.

Startlingly, robotic technology has advanced so dramatically that manufacturers can now create dolls that look exactly like a real person. Therefore, pedophiles could not only abuse a doll that looks like a child – they could play out their sexual desires on a doll that looks like a child they know or see every day.

It’s because of these ethical, moral, and legal concerns that organizations like the Stop Abuse Campaign and the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR) support my legislation, called the CREEPER Act (short for the Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots Act). In an extensive analysis of ethical issues surrounding robots, FRR concluded that “allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with sex robots could have a pernicious effect on society and societal norms and create more danger for the vulnerable.” 

For the sake of our country’s children, we absolutely cannot allow child sex dolls in our communities.

Donovan represents New York's 11th District.