DOCUMENT: Investigation, Crime

Undercover Probe Targets Nudist Firm

Child porn sting focuses on N.J. company’s clients

Nudist catalog

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Nudist Sting Affidavit

AUGUST 19--As part of an undercover probe, federal agents have been targeting customers of a New Jersey-based business selling nudist publications in a sting operation aimed at trying to get these clients to purchase child pornography videos, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The undercover operation, run out of the United States Postal Inspection Service’s Newark office, is focusing on subjects receiving mail from Internaturally, Inc., a 30-year-old business whose web site advertises the “World’s biggest naturist catalog.” The company--run by Bernard Loibl, 62, and his wife Sherry, 57--also publishes “Naturally,” a quarterly nudist magazine with 6000 subscribers.

Details of the unorthodox federal probe surfaced this week in a court filing related to an August 4 raid at the South Carolina home of Joseph Laney, an Internaturally customer. A search warrant affidavit, excerpted here, provides a glimpse at the undercover operation, which apparently involves the monitoring of Internaturally’s mail. Known as a “mail cover,” the investigative tool allows agents to record details about senders and recipients of postal items.

According to the affidavit, Postal Inspector Brian Wittig “identified” Laney as “having U.S. Mail correspondence with” Internaturally. Wittig reported that the company “published a nudist magazine called Naturally, which offered images of nude children under the age of 18,” adding that the publication included ads “selling videos containing footage of” naked minors.

Aware that “those who have a sexual interest in children may also show an interest in obtaining child pornography,” Wittig created an undercover company, Vista Line Videos, that purported to be “one of the most complete speciality video suppliers in North America.” The firm’s 11 video categories included “Bestiality,” “Girls-Adolescent,” and "Incest & Family.” In a bid to entice customers, Wittig has sent unsolicited advertisements to individuals who have received mail from Internaturally (the firm has a 30,000-name mailing list).

The undercover mailing included a catalog request form that was to be filled out by the recipient. In Laney’s case, he wrote back Vista Line Videos and asked for five of its catalogs. Agents subsequently sent Laney, 55, five one-page catalogs, which listed 67 separate video titles and descriptions.

Laney, according to the affidavit, ordered a $30 DVD titled “Next Top Model.” According to one of the undercover operation’s catalogs, the video featured “many incredibly sexy 10-12 year old girls” stripping and showing off “their nude young bodies.” After the video was delivered to Laney, his Rock Hill home was raided by federal agents, who recovered a “Delivered ‘Vista Line Videos’ DVD from DVD player,” according to a court filing.

In a TSG interview, Laney admitted purchasing the DVD, which he termed a “mistake in judgment.” Claiming to be a “naturalist,” he said that the video was “not for sexual gratification,” adding that he thought the title was “straight nudist.” Laney, who has not yet been arrested in connection with his Vista Line Videos purchase, was unaware how federal agents came to target him in the undercover probe. Asked if he was an Internaturally customer, Laney replied that he had purchased items from the firm “on and off” since the mid-1980s.

In interviews, the Loibls told TSG that other customers reported receiving the unsolicited mailing, but that the couple did not begin connecting the dots until they were recently contacted by a lawyer representing a man who had been caught up in the sting. Bernard Loibl described his business as a “wholesome naturist organization,” while his wife noted that the firm has never encountered any legal problems. “We do not have anything to do with child pornography,” she said.

Both Loibls said they were distressed to learn that their mail was apparently being tracked and their customers were being targeted by federal investigators.

But while Sherry Loibl described Internaturally’s clientele as those “truly interested in the naturist lifestyle,” it is not hard to imagine publications and videos sold by the company--in addition to the firm’s web site itself--being of interest to pedophiles. The titles--which are often produced overseas--do not include sexual activity. But they frequently show young children naked, which can be jarring and unsettling, especially since the Internet is crawling with individuals thirsty for such imagery.

Additionally, some of the imported products offered by Internaturally--like the $80 DVD “Naturist Family Talent Contest”--carry descriptions that could easily be interpreted as sleazy come-ons: “Several Naturist girls show off their various talents in this family contest on the beach. Hundreds of people attend and every girl wins a prize.” Sherry Loibl described videos like this as “innocent portrayals of families having fun.” (5 pages)

Comments (16)

What I do not understand is that our American culture objectifies girls as young as toddlers in beauty pageants; these little girls are smeared with tons of make-up, dressed in skimpy, revealing constumes, then prance and gyrate around the stage while beat-driven music is blaring (remember JonBenet Ramsey) - and their mothers are encouraging and supporting them in these activities!!! Nobody is criticizing the viewing of these fact, they are broadcast on TV! But if a person goes to Finland or Russia, there are nudist beauty contests for girls in age groups from 8 to 18. These shows have men and women as emcees; large crowds of families that come to watch and support the contestants; and there are bathing suit and talent sections along with the nude beauty judging. These contests are available for sale on DVD. Now sure, I am not naive enough to believe that there are some who buy these tapes for masturbatory purposes in addition to those simply interested in the nudist lifestyle. But nowhere in the production or distribution of these DVDs is anyone forcing any kind of sexual acts on the girls. Wake up people and mind your own business - people have a right to privacy and the freedom to buy whatever non-pedophilic DVD they want to!!
I visited the site, I didn't see anything obscene or objectionable on it. I am not happy with the government's apparent Entrapment scheme (That's what it is!). Don't look at Hustler, Playboy, your wife, or husband! If you have a child that cannot wash/dress him/herself, watch out! Do any of the above or various and other sundry innocent things, and you're going to jail!
HELLO!!!???? Isn't anyone concerned about these tactics? The feds have targeted consumers of a LEGAL product on a fishing expedition to try and snare people into doing something illegal. Can they track and target people who buy alcohol because of all the alcohol related crimes when people are drunk? What about targeting buyers of condoms? Certainly some are rapists and sex fiends. Cigarette and tobacco smokers? Maybe they're smoking pot too. Better target and track them. Ever hear of the magazine "High Times"? Should the feds target every reader? what about subscribers? Certainly some are doing something illegal. Now if they could just put tracking chips in rolling papers then they;d catch all the bad guys. I'm against kiddie porn but the feds should not be targeting consumers of a legal product to cast their fishing net. If they have a problem with the magazine, they should close it down. This is a very bad precedent and a very slippery slope.... I'd rather see them go after illegal aliens than go on a fishing expedition targeting buyers of a legal product. Sure... you only complain if you have something to hide or if your in favor of one is in favor of kiddie porn but this is over the edge. FIRST THEY CAME for subscribers of a LEGAL publication.... and I did nothing.... (you know how it ends... ).
If nudism is just about the freedom of being nude with others in social situations, and isn't sexual, then why would nudists want to watch videos of other people being nude? They're not there with them. And I clicked through some of that company's "preview" images for the videos -- most are focused on children as the target of the photograph. What parent would let their child be photographed for people to "enjoy" from the comfort of their home? Being nude together is one thing, posing your child for a magazine or video to be sold to the general public is just creepy and pretty borderline, I think.
i luv this imagine the postal inspector showing up it's like shooting fish i'm barrel i was molested it phucks with me to this day
It's important for everybody to understand that most in the nudist community, including me, are not very comfortable with this publication precisely because they advertise videos that very much blur the line between legitimate naturist videos and soft-core porn. Naturism is very much a family activity and there's no problem with videos of it that happen to show children who are nude, but there needs to be a point to the video other than showing naked people (children OR adults for that matter!). For example, a video showing various nudist resorts so that people can choose which resort they want to visit should not suddenly be considered inappropriate because there are children shown playing in one or more of them. To me, a good test is "would this video be just as interesting if the children were clothed as if they were nude?". If the answer is "yes", it's likely a legitimate nudist video, but if the answer is "no", then it's something to be extremely suspicious about. I'm a subscriber to Internatually because they have information that other naturist publications do not (they do a better job of being a "clipping service" for mainstream publications that mention things of interest to nudists and cover more international nudism than the other US naturist publications), but so do with a distinct "bad taste" in my mouth because of their advertising. I keep hoping that either they'll drop that advertising or other publications will pick up the items that are unique to them. So when rgfilm says "I was curious and went to see the nudist site. I must say it is very weird", it's important for everybody to understand that most nudists feel exactly the same way about aspects of this publication.
Nudist videos surely have value beyond just promoting resorts. Nudity in and of itself is interesting for it's own sake to the 6 billion of us who wear clothes in public every day. A film about people at a public beach would be of mild interest. But if they are all naked, now that will turn heads. The whole point is to show first hand that Naturism is possible and worthwhile. It's one thing to read about it but the most powerful show of the power and beauty of Naturism is witnessing it. You are very lucky, if you are able to spend time at Naturist resorts. Most of the world does not have access to public Naturist venues. The idea that a nudist film is illegitimate if it wouldn't be "just as interesting" if everyone were clothes doesn't make sense. They are nudist films. The whole point is that people viewing are interested in seeing social nudity. It would be like saying a film about Giraffes eating lunch is illegitimate if it wouldn't be "just as interesting" if it were people eating lunch. Nudist videos that show real people interacting in positive healthy ways are, fortunately, of interest to the majority of people. Regarding this sting, I would suspect that they will expend a lot of energy, time and money and 'protect' no one. But that is for law enforcement to decide how best to use their resources. They would do better to use the mailing lists of the Catholic Church, which has a long proven record of serious organized child molestation and abuse. The very antithesis of Naturism which is about open honest respectful treatment of the human body and nature. But then there are more Catholics than Naturists hence they can get away with attacking Naturists. Imagine the backlash if Catholics had their mail monitored and were sent child porn solicitations by the U.S. government.
I agree with what you're saying. And note that I specifically referred to CHILDREN in my "just as interesting if clothed" comment because of the (proper) sensitivity that nude children have. Sure, if you're trying to interest people in the nudist lifestyle and what you show are clothed people, you aren't going to succeed. But I'm making a different point. Let me make it with an illustration. As I said, many in the nudist community have been upset about the videos advertised in that publication for quite a while. A typical description is something like "Mary is having her 12th birthday party and invites all her nudist friends". Is that a legitimate naturist video? To me, the way to answer that is to ask "Is there anything interesting about the video other than that everybody is nude?". Are they playing some fun game? Is there some show they put on? In other words, would this be something that somebody would be interested in seeing were they clothed? If not, then this is nothing more than soft-core child pornography pretending to be a "nudist video". It's hard to see how such a video could serve the purpose of promoting nudism. I also share your concerns about investigations like this. Many naturist organizations are losing members and magazine subscribers due to the recession: if potential subscribers now have to worry about whether the police will be using them for various sting operations, it'll hurt these organizations even more.
Because, of course, the feds have nothing better to do with their time and money than set up phony child porn sites to "investigate" persons who would not otherwise even be interested. Not to mention the fact that most child porn on the internet is provided by law enforcement agencies, so that they can pull this kind of crap. I have seen estimates as high as 90% for the percentage of child porn placed on the internet by LE.
Some of these photos are borderline, but the majority are of adults. Nudism isn't my thing, but there a lot of people who like it. Go figure. I could never reveal my shortcomings in public, though.
This has nothing to do with targetting nudists, but nudists who are trying to make a buck by attracting pedophiles to their nudist material. Walk around naked all you want, but the guy they targeted was not looking for nudist material. Otherwise, why would he call it a mistake in judgement? And it sounds like he knew he was selling to pedophiles. I think this is a good use of tax money.
Typical government waste of tax payer money. I like to be nude, but I am NOT a pervert or a child molester. I just like to be nude...end of story...why is that so hard for people to understand? At the end of my work-day the first thing I do when I get to the PRIVACY of my OWN HOME is to take my clothes off and enjoy the freedom!
Child pornography is repugnant but the idea that our government is trying to lure readers of a nudist publication to buy possible child porn is not my idea of intelligent use of our tax dollars. Equating nudism is with child porn is as big a stretch as claiming gay marriage will lead to be bestiality. Seems like the religious nut cases operating from their extreme sexual repression are running our postal service. Now, THAT is truly American.
Heck, after reading this, I just get the urge to remove the last shred of my clothes and frolic to and fro completely naked - except for a tube sock strategically placed.
I was curious and went to see the nudist site. I must say it is very weird. I felt that it was very inappropriate. To each is own. The federal agents are doing the right thing.
@rgfilm: Knock knock