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Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

advises police that pornographer on loose

March 14, 2002

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— A man who wrote to "Dear Abby" for advice on how to handle his fantasies about having sex with girls was charged Wednesday with possessing child pornography after the columnist turned him in, authorities say.

Paul Weiser, 28, was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography. He was ordered released on $10,000 bail on the condition he avoid computers and contact with anyone under 18.

Police said 40 pornographic photographs of children were found in his computer after his arrest Monday.

"He acknowledges he needs help and denies ever acting upon any desires," said prosecutor Paul Tiffin.

"Dear Abby" columnist Jeanne Phillips, the daughter of the column's founder, Pauline Phillips, called police after receiving the letter.

Jeanne Phillips, who shares her mother's pen name Abigail Van Buren, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she agonized over whether to report Weiser, since the column's credibility is based on the anonymity given those seeking her advice.

"I lost sleep, didn't sleep for days, because I really believe this man wrote to me genuinely seeking help," she said. "I was torn, because my readers do turn to me for help, yet there was the priority of the safety of those young girls."

Phillips added: "I believe he was seeking help, and I hope that is considered and I hope he gets the help he so obviously needs."

She was said to be traveling on Wednesday and did not return a call from The Associated Press.

Weiser could get up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count, if convicted. A preliminary hearing was set for March 25.

Tom Hayes, Weiser's attorney, said he hoped Phillips' call to the police would not deter others from seeking help. He declined further comment.

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