Efforts to rehabilitate the image of a tiny British territory in the South Pacific that was rocked by a 2004 sex abuse scandal have hit a roadblock. The former mayor of Pitcairn Island has been convicted of possessing more than 1,000 images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children, reports Vice, which notes that Michael Warren is the eighth man of the island's male population of about 12 to be accused of sex crimes against children. The island's total population is about 50. Prosecutors say Warren, mayor between 2008 and 2013, began downloading the images more than a decade ago, the Guardian reports. Warren's possession of the images was first discovered when he mistakenly sent an email to a diplomatic staff member from an email address linked to a chat site containing explicit images.
Warren downloaded the images during a period in which he was working in child protection on the island. Initially, he defended himself by saying he did so to understand child pornography after the 2004 scandal, in which seven of the island's men were accused of 55 sex crimes. Defendants in that trial argued that sex between men and young girls was a cultural tradition on Pitcairn. Those men received sentences ranging from community service to six years in prison, while Warren was sentenced to 20 months. It is unclear if he will serve the sentence in New Zealand, where the island's legal proceedings are conducted, or as the sole inmate of Pitcairn's prison, which was constructed by islanders convicted of sex crimes. The island desperately needs new immigrants to survive, and Warren's case surely won't help. (In the US, some former vets are now going after child predators.)