Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hey Jeb, Gotta ruler?

June 18, 2003

The Honorable Jeb Bush
Governor, State of Florida
PL05 Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
The Honorable Charlie Crist
Attorney General, State of Florida
PL01 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Dear Governor Bush and Attorney General Crist:

The New York Times today carried an article I found truly disturbing. Headlined "Old Enough to Make a Lanyard, and to Do It Nude," it is a story about a nudist camp for children - ages 11-18 - at the Lake Como Resort in Land O'Lakes, Florida.

Pasco County, according to the story, has long been a haven for nudists and nudist resorts. The reason is that, again according to the story, Florida''s laws permit underage nudity as long as there is no "lewdness."

Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether illegal behavior is taking place in this camp, but the situation clearly raises legitimate issues that should be addressed given that it involves minor children. I am also deeply troubled that these "camps" are businesses specifically exploiting nudity among minor children to make money.

The New York Times article also clearly raises safety issues concerning these children. For example, the article told of instances where men have made their way to the camp pool to get a "glimpse" of these naked children. I am sure this was not the first time someone tried to gain access illegally to this camp, and I am sure it will not be the last. The next time, these children may not be so fortunate: the trespasser may have more on his mind than just peeping.

As co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, I'm asking that current Florida law be reviewed to determine if this camp is indeed legal or if it has simply slipped under the radar screen of law enforcement for the past 10 years.

If Florida law is not sufficient to address these camps, you certainly can count on my support to pursue changes in the statutes.

Over the years, while working with John Walsh and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, I have come across many stories of children endangered in even less troubling situations than these camps represent. I have been fighting for years to eliminate both child pornography and so-called "exploitive child modeling" websites, and frankly, I would put these camps in the same mold: I believe they may be endangering these children.

I look forward to hearing from you to see what we can do to ensure the safety of our state's children.

Mark Foley
Member of Congress


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