Neo-Nazi Child Porn Enthusiast Denies All
Kevin Strom, the longtime neo-Nazi leader, had a surprising revelation for the judge who was about to sentence him to almost two years in prison on federal child pornography charges: He was not, in fact, a child pornographer.
Never mind that Strom had pleaded guilty in January to federal child pornography charges, or that police said they'd found images of child porn on his computer, along with hundreds of photos of naked girls "in sexually suggestive positions."
At his April 21 sentencing, Strom, 51, insisted that he had no taste for pornography. "I am not a pedophile," he said. "I am the furthest thing from a pervert."
Not only that, but Strom was indignant that anyone would call him a neo-Nazi. "I deeply resent the way I've been characterized in the press," he huffed after entering his guilty plea in January. "I'm no more a white supremacist than the Dalai Lama is a Tibetan supremacist."
The Dalai Lama comparison may be stretching it. For nearly two decades, the bespectacled, nattily dressed neo-Nazi served as right hand man to William Pierce, whose book The Turner Diaries became a blueprint for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. After Pierce died unexpectedly in 2002, Strom was passed over for leadership of Pierce's neo-Nazi organization, the National Alliance. Strom eventually broke away to form the now defunct National Vanguard in 2005.
Strom's public woes began on Jan. 4, 2007, when federal agents arrested him near his home in Stanardsville, Va. He was charged with possessing and receiving child pornography, enticing a minor to perform sex acts and intimidating a witness. U.S. District Judge Norman Moon dismissed the latter two charges at Strom's first trial in October. He ruled that while Strom had followed and anonymously sent many gifts to a 10-year-old girl, he had not actually tried to have sex with her. The judge did note that there was "overwhelming evidence he was sexually drawn to this child." He also found that Strom's numerous legal complaints against his wife did not amount to intimidation.
This January, facing a second trial on unresolved charges, Strom struck a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. In exchange, multiple counts of receiving child porn were dismissed. During his sentencing on April 21, Strom said the child porn came from an online forum he'd visited and that he had not intentionally downloaded it onto his computer. Strom, who had already served more than one year in prison, asked Judge Norman Moon not to give him further time.
"Mr. Strom, you pled guilty to charges that now you're saying you're innocent [of]," Moon responded. "I prefer people plead not guilty than put it on me."
Moon, who called Strom's guilty plea "extremely serious," sentenced him to 23 months in jail. Nonetheless, with time served, Strom could be free by the end of this year. He will be under supervised release for 15 years.
Though his critics lampooned his allegedly feminine mannerisms by nicknaming him "Weenie," Strom's intellectual persona gave him a veneer of respectability that stood in sharp contrast to the thuggish image of the white supremacist world. Then, in July 2006, he abruptly announced he was taking a leave of absence as chief of National Vanguard because of "family and health matters." He acknowledged having "made mistakes, some of them serious ones," but didn't elaborate.
Strom's arrest several months later shook the supremacist movement, which in recent years has seen several key activists arrested for embarrassing crimes, some of them sexual. After Strom's sentencing in April, the neo-Nazi online forum Vanguard News Network featured a lively debate about whether or not he was innocent. Amid the abundance of conspiracy theories and speculations that Strom had pleaded guilty as a ploy to avoid jail time, many of his fellow white nationalists sounded like they'd had enough of him.
Wrote one member: "Kevin Strom is a weirdo and should not be allowed back into WN [white nationalist] circles. Period."