John Grisham Apologizes For Child-Porn Comments

John Grisham

The best-selling novelist had told The Telegraph that prison sentences were too harsh for those who may have accidentally stumbled across child pornography.

John Grisham is apologizing after he told The Telegraph that the punishment leveled against people who watch child pornography is too severe.

"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," the best-selling novelist said in a story published Wednesday. "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."

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Grisham, 59, spoke about his friend in Canada who landed in prison for three years after downloading footage of 16-year-old girls, which ended up being part of a sting operation. "[Downloading the video] was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything," Grisham said, adding: "We've gone nuts with this incarceration."

Grisham, best known for legal thrillers like The Firm and The Pelican Brief, took part in the interview to promote his latest novel, Gray Mountain, which will be available Oct. 23.

He pointed out that he has "no sympathy for real pedophiles," but that "so many of these guys [who watch child porn] do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that's what they're getting." Child-porn watchers "deserve some type of punishment, whatever, but 10 years in prison?"

After the outcry over Grisham's comments, the author apologized Thursday for his remarks, posting a statement on his website that read in part, "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."

Grisham added that his remarks made during The Telegraph interview 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," he continued. "I regret having made these comments and apologize to all."

2:13 p.m. This story has been updated with Grisham's apology.

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@pgmedia.org
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski

Email: Hilary.Lewis@thr.com
Twitter: @hilarylewis

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