'Pro-Life' Ex-RNC Aide Who Dreamed Of Killing Kids Sentenced To 12 Years For Child Porn
Over the last month, the GOP has gone full QAnon in terms of pushing the idea that everything the Left does is somehow related to an evil plot to "groom" and subsequently molest children. They've claimed their ridiculous "Don't Say Gay" bills are actually "anti-grooming" bills, seeking to protect children from teachers who might somehow use "the general existence of LGBTQ people" as a pretext to sexually molest them. They tried to claim that our new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was "soft on child porn" despite the fact that her sentences for those who were convicted of possessing it were largely in line with what the parole board had recommended for their individual cases, as well as in line with the national average.
With that being noted ... Ruben Verastigui, a "pro-life" activist who worked as a digital strategist for the RNC and Senate Republican Conference and created social media advertising campaigns for pro-Trump political committees, and who spoke at the 2013 March For Life rally as the president of his college's chapter of Students For Life, was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in prison for possession of child pornography.
(Content Note: some pretty serious child abuse shit here)
As it turns out, Verastigui's opposition to abortion seems to have had less to do with any great love of fetuses and more to do with his personal interest in watching videos of babies being raped. In his chat group, Verastigui also shared his desire to personally rape and kill a baby and sought others to travel with him for the purpose of doing this.
Via the Department of Justice:
According to the government’s evidence, from April 2020 through February 2021, Verastigui was active in an online group devoted to trading child pornography and discussing child sexual abuse. Verastigui shared child pornography videos with another member of the group and made numerous comments about sexually abusing children. Verastigui indicated his preference for babies, saying they were his “absolute favorite,” and solicited another group member for videos of babies being raped. The other group member promptly sent Verastigui a video of a baby being raped, to which Verastigui responded enthusiastically. The other group member then sent Verastigui numerous other videos of child pornography.
After Verastigui serves his 12 years in prison, he will be placed on five years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years.
Verastigui was part of a chat group involving at least 17 others who shared his interest in child pornography and abusing children that was investigated by the DOJ. This group included another Republican staffer, Trump Commerce Department official Adam Hageman, who was also charged last year with possession of child pornography. Upon his arrest, Hageman's phone “contained at least 33 videos that appear to contain sexually explicit depictions of children, including of prepubescent children.”
According to an extremely sickening pretrial detention memo:
In the spring of 2020, defendant Adam Hageman joined a group devoted to trading child pornography and discussing sexually abusing children. There were 17 other members, several of which boasted about actively producing child pornography of children they had access to and then shared that content with the group. Not only did Hageman encourage others in the group to rape children and solicited them to share child pornography, but he also discussed his own sexual fantasies about children, expressing how much he was looking forward to the pandemic being over so that he could go to restaurants and parks and display his penis to kids. Hageman also said the youngest child he had had was 15 years old. And, he said he needed to start “crossing fantasies off his list,” asking for someone to find a dad with a young child they would be willing to “rent” out to the group. Hageman is a danger to the community and should be detained pending trial in this case.
In an unrelated incident, a lawyer on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey's staff was recently charged with "child solicitation."
If we were as disingenuous as the Right, we could suggest that all of this hysteria about everyone being a baby-eating child molester or "pro-pedophile" is meant to be a cover for the fact that so many in their own ranks actually do want to sexually assault children. Or that "pro-life" people are only "pro-life" so they can rape and kill babies once they are born.
However, those of us who actually do take these things seriously understand that going around accusing people of being child molesters or "pro-pedophile" without any kind of actual evidence is a bad idea and actually ends up hurting victims rather than helping. The fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ron DeSantis and other right wing loons want to use this very serious issue as a way to "own the libs" and frame those who disagree with them as actual child molesters shows that they don't really give a damn about it at all.
That being said, there's nothing wrong with bringing up Ruben Verastigui and Adam Hageman and others every time the Right starts in with their "anti-grooming" nonsense.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse