News (USA)

Founder of “Protect Our Kids First” arrested for allegedly downloading child sex abuse material

Michael Dolce Photo: YouTube screenshot

Michael Dolce, a 53-year-old lawyer known for representing child sexual abuse survivors, was recently arrested by FBI agents at his West Palm Beach, Florida home. Dolce, who founded a group called Protect Our Kids First Inc., was allegedly laying in his bed and downloading sexually explicit images of children when agents broke down his front door.

According to an FBI affidavit, after Dolce’s March 15 arrest, agents found 1,997 images and five videos of child pornography on his computer. The images were of male and female children ages five to 12, including several of a prepubescent girl in a subfolder titled “Sweet Pedo Stars.” Dolce could receive a minimum of 20 years in prison if found guilty of possessing child pornography.

It’s unclear why the FBI was monitoring Dulce and whether he had any anti-LGBTQ+ views. However, he is one of the countless cisgender men who have been arrested for child pornography while right-wingers continually accuse LGBTQ+ people, drag performers, and their allies of being “pedophiles” and “groomers.”

At the time of his arrest, Dolce worked for the law firm Cohen Milstead. He led its Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking, and Domestic Abuse Team. However, the firm fired him two days after his arrest. Dolce’s work representing child sex abuse victims won him awards from the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, and the Florida Justice Association.

Dolce also founded the political committee Protect Our Kids First Inc, which advocated for a state bill removing the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to sue their abusers.

When testifying in favor of the bill, Dolce said he himself had been molested by a “sadistic” neighbor at age seven but was legally unable to press charges years later when he felt ready to acknowledge what had happened. He said such statutes of limitations protect predators who bully their victims into silence and added that abuse survivors often feel too scared or ashamed to speak about their experience immediately after it occurs.

The Catholic Church opposed the aforementioned bill, worried that it would allow survivors of priestly sex abuse to sue decades later. But when the legislation eventually became law in 2010, Dolce said, “I wept with joy. I was overwhelmed by relief.”

Republican legislators are currently trying to change legal definitions of “child pornography” in order to ban LGBTQ+ content in schools, libraries, and bookstores and to charge LGBTQ+ youth advocates with the “delinquency of a minor,” a charge that usually refers to soliciting or engaging in sexual intercourse with a child.

These attempts to link the queer community with pedophilic groomers are hindering the work of those who actually fight against child sex abuse as well as survivors of such abuse.

If Dolce is found guilty of possessing child pornography, he’ll likely face a “living hell” behind bars, CBS News reported. Inmates with sexual interests in children often occupy the lowest rung of the prisoner hierarchy, with other inmates sometimes defecating in their cells, using them as sex slaves, or targeting them for violence and murder as a way to gain prestige. Even when such offenders are placed into protective custody, they remain widely despised by other inmates, the news outlet reported.

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