Charge: Auburn 'boylover' caught with child porn

SEATTLE -- A police investigation launched in the Netherlands targeting "boylovers" has prompted charges against an Auburn man alleged to have belonged to the pedophile group.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle contend Benjamin Gran was identified during an investigation into BoyLovers.net, an online forum for pedophiles, and then caught with child pornography at his Auburn home.

Dutch police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the investigation - dubbed "Operation Rescue" - in 2009 aimed at bringing down the forum. According to charging papers, investigators have thus far arrested 12 suspected child abusers and rescued 100 children.

The central figure in the BoyLovers.com investigation, Robert Mikelsons, was accused of sexually assaulting at least 86 children and has since been sentenced to 19 years in a Dutch prison.

Investigators describe Gran as a close friend of Mikelsons and a fellow supporter of the movement to legitimize the sexual abuse of children. Writing the court, a Seattle-based Homeland Security special agent said Mikelsons, Gran and the other BoyLovers.net forum members asserted molestation and rape were healthy for the children they hurt.

"'BoyLovers' believe that this attraction is neither wrong nor harmful, believe that they have a partial obligation to educate young boys and others about the validity of their desires, and constantly reach out to other like-minded individuals for the validation and support of these beliefs," the Homeland Security agent told the court.

The agent went on to offer the North American Man-Boy Love Association - NAMBLA, a punch line on "South Park" and elsewhere - as the most prominent pusher of the view promoted by Mikelsons and his associates.

Relying on email recovered during the investigation, investigators contend Gran and Mikelsons began discussing their shared interest in child pornography as early as 2004. In those email, Gran is alleged to have admitted to uploading child pornography he produced to the forum.

Investigators later came to believe Gran helped ship a thumbdrive containing Mikelsons extensive collection of "homemade" child pornography across the United States. According to charging papers, Mikelsons used the drive to restore his collection after it was disabled or seized by law enforcement.

Having secured a search warrant, agents seized electronics from Gran's Auburn home in June 2011. Writing the court, the Homeland Security agent said child pornography was found on a DVD and other items in the home. In December 2011, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children confirmed that 13 children pictured in the videos are known to law enforcement.

Gran was charged Tuesday with possessing and receiving child pornography. He has not been jailed in the case.