Child porn: The troubled past of James PerryDate: July 28, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
Source: Madison.com. The following is an excerpt.
The troubled past of James Perry
James Perry was sentenced in federal court in Madison Wednesday to 180 years in prison after pleading guilty to six counts of sexual exploitation of children. The sentence is, in essence, a life term. There is no parole option in the federal system.
FBI agents say Perry repeatedly forced two young girls into sexual acts with him, often filming the assaults and arranging for another man to join in. On one videotape, prosecutors say Perry can be seen having sexual intercourse with an 8-year-old girl as she cries and says, "Mommy, mommy, I want my mommy."
Other tapes show him assaulting girls at a Madison motel, in his Stoughton home and on a jungle gym at an elementary school. U.S. District Judge John Shabaz, who sentenced Perry, called the acts horrific and depraved.
Perry also faces 41 counts in Dane County Circuit Court. Those charges include child pornography, kidnapping and sexual assaults. Police say Perry abducted a 13-year-old girl at gunpoint from a Madison hotel, raped a 16-year-old Marshall girl, sexually assaulted four young children and randomly attacked lone female store clerks over several years.
Police also say they have tapes of Perry using a small hand-held video camera to record himself masturbating around young children in dozens of stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. No charges have yet been filed for those acts.
'He masked it well' Phil Perry sat numb in the courtroom Wednesday as his son was sentenced. In a telephone interview Friday from his home in Franklin, he said he and his wife knew James had a drug problem growing up, but they didn't see a darker side.
"We keep asking ourselves, 'Was it something we missed? Was it something we did' He masked it very well."
Phil married James' biological mother, Brenda, in 1975, when the boy was 5, and he legally adopted James and his sister in 1977.
"To me, he's not my stepson, he's my son," said Phil Perry, who manages a produce section at a grocery store. "I raised him from the start. I love him. We don't understand what he did, but I still love him. That won't go away until I die."
James Perry was known to childhood friends as Jaime. He was a popular kid who played pee-wee football and went to a nondenominational church every Sunday, Phil Perry said. But as a juvenile, he was nabbed for aggravated burglary and grand theft. He dropped out of Franklin High School after his sophomore year.
"He kept getting suspended," his father said. "He got so far behind he just quit."
More criminal problems followed. He was convicted of breaking and entering at age 22 and of receiving stolen property three years later. As recently as 1998, he was arrested in Franklin for burglarizing a uniform supply company.
His parents have learned more about their son's troubled past following his arrest in Stoughton in February. In letters from jail, James Perry claims he was sexually molested as a child by two relatives and a family friend, Phil Perry said. As a 15-year-old incarcerated in an adult prison, he claims he was sexually assaulted by fellow inmates.
"He was a little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy. He was meat to them," Phil Perry said.
James Perry also reveals in his letters that he was haunted as a child by his mother's reported rape by two strangers in 1977, when he was 7. The family thought it had shielded him from knowing about the rape, Phil Perry said.
Brenda Perry said she was pushed into a van outside a bar, knocked out, raped and beaten. They dumped her outside a Franklin bowling alley, she said. No arrests were made in the case.
"When he was 8 or 9, he'd sneak out at night and go to that bowling alley and sit there and cry," his father said.
The State Journal typically does not name the victims of sex crimes. Brenda Perry said she wanted the information made public because it speaks to her son's mindset.
Phil Perry said he doesn't know what caused his son's problems.
"I don't think it's any one particular thing. I think it's a combination of many things."
In conversations since February, James Perry has told his father he will come clean about other crimes he committed, although he has not told his father whether he is indeed the so-called mall rapist.
"He will admit to the stuff he did, but he's not going to plead out things he didn't do," Phil Perry said. "That wouldn't be fair to those victims if there's still (a perpetrator) out there."
Phil Perry said he's devastated.
"I feel for the families (of the victims). If I could take their pain away, I would. I wish and I pray they'll be able to find strength to get through this."
"I made it" Leanna Perry calls her husband of eight years a master manipulator who led a double life. She had no knowledge of his crimes, she said.
The two met in Ohio as employees of an engineering company. At the time, she had a young daughter from a prior relationship. The two went on to have a daughter together.
For a time, James Perry appeared to have turned his life around.
On a national Web site that helps alumni reconnect, Perry recently boasted to former classmates at Franklin High School that times were good.
"For those who are curious, I made it," he wrote in a mini-biography that appears on the web site. "I'm happily married with two beautiful girls. I currently live in Wisconsin. I'm a foreman for a cellular company."
Perry traveled frequently for his job as a crew leader with National Tower Service of Madison. Josh Winterburn, his supervisor, said there was nothing suspicious about Perry's work habits. "I'm completely beside myself to think anything like that was possible," Winterburn said.
Perry duped others, too. Jody Gennrich, who has known Leanna Perry for four years and works with her at The Registry in Madison, said she viewed James Perry as a caring father. "It's exactly as if there were two different people."
At Wednesday's sentencing and in media interviews, Leanna Perry has sought the maximum punishment for her husband and wished him dead. She has apologized publicly to his victims, although she said in an interview that she must, at some point, distance herself from his actions.
"I know that for the past five months, I've been taking on other people and their problems and apologized, but I also have to step back and say, 'It's him. It's him.'"
The two had their troubles. James Perry was convicted of disorderly conduct in Dane County Circuit Court two years ago for a fight with Leanna in their Stoughton duplex. He allegedly kicked her, struck her several times with his fist on the top of her head and pushed her to the floor.
Back home Muriel Barrett's back yard abuts the Perry back yard in Franklin. News of James Perry's crimes is trickling back to his hometown, although Barrett had not yet heard any of it when a reporter phoned her.
"I have to sit down. You've taken my breath away," she said.
Her son Tim was Perry's best friend as a child. Perry often played at their home.
"My recollection is that he was always an extremely polite young man, always respectful to us," she said. "He did have some legal scrapes, but I thought they were all minor."
She saw him three years ago when he was home for a visit. They talked in her yard.
"I'd never have guessed this of him," she said. "I guess some people are totally different from what they present to you."
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