US writer John Grisham sorry for 'child porn' comments

He had argued America's judicial system was locking up too many people

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American author John Grisham has apologised for comments suggesting that men who access child sex abuse images should get lighter sentences.

Launching an attack on the American judicial system, the best-selling writer said far too many people were being jailed under the present system, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Grisham, 59, said: “We have prisons now filled with guys my age. 60-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child.

“But they got online one night, started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever and pushed the wrong buttons and went too far and got into child porn or whatever.”

The comments caused an outcry on social media from people highlighting Mr Grisham’s successful career in law and politics. 

On Thursday, he released a statement on his website saying:  “Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography—online or otherwise—should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

His books have sold millions of copies and been made into films

“My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.

“I regret having made these comments, and apologise to all.”

According to Mr Grisham, his friend ran into trouble nearly a decade ago when he accessed a child abuse sting operation set-up by the Canadian Mounted police, which advertised images of 16-year-old girls, while intoxicated.

The man was later sentenced to three years in prison, according to the author.

“There are so many of them now, so many sex offenders – that’s what they’re called – that they put them in the same prison, like they are a bunch of perverts or something,” said the millionaire, whose legal thrillers, such as The Firm and A Time to Kill, have sold over 275 million copies.

Mr Grisham, who trained as a lawyer before turning to writing, said: “They never hurt anybody, ok? They deserve some type of punishment but ten years in prison?”