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FBI’s Joyner: Very Poor Record Keeping; Only 3 of 19 companies Visited in 2257 Compliance

> From AVN: LOS ANGELES – “Very poor, with a couple of exceptions.”

That’s how Chuck Joyner, the FBI supervisory special agent in charge of the ongoing Section 2257 inspections in southern California, sums up the quality of the record keeping he’s seen so far across the 19 companies inspected during the course of the past year.

“There are a couple of companies out there whose record keeping is so bad that they could easily hire a minor and would never know it,” Joyner remarked during a 45-minute, face-to-face interview last Thursday at the FBI offices on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles and in the presence of Laura Eimiller, who handles FBI press and public relations.

What’s more, Joyner could think of at least three occasions when no one was present at a company when the FBI came out to inspect, calling it “arguable” in one of those cases whether a company was trying to duck an inspection.

“We try to be as reasonable as possible. It’s a case-by-case basis. If there’s no indication that they’re purposely ducking us, I don’t mind coming back two or three times,” Joyner said.

The overall lack of record-keeping compliance has startled Joyner.

“These are legal businesses. They have attorneys counseling them. Our assumption was they would be in complete compliance, and I was surprised to see that very few are. Most of them are out of compliance. That was a surprise,” Joyner said.

Specifically, Joyner noted that of the 19 companies visited by June 21, only three were in complete compliance, on the day they were inspected, with the federal statutes and regulations governing age-verification and record-keeping for the adult entertainment industry.

All but two of the other 16 companies, however, were able to become compliant within the one-week grace period that Joyner and the FBI have been extending to the companies searched.

“There are several reports that are with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and back at the Department of Justice that are undergoing review right now to determine who to prosecute,” Joyner said, emphasizing that the FBI is not making recommendations about whether to prosecute.

“We simply conduct the inspections. We cite the violations. We don’t make the determination if it’s going to be prosecuted or not,” he said, adding that “it’s not our place to say, ‘we need to go after this company.’ We simply report what we found.”

Joyner noted that he can usually predict when a company will or will not be in compliance.

“Once we walk in, within minutes of meeting the custodian of records, we can pretty much determine if this is going to go well or not. If they hire an 18-year-old kid to keep the records, it may not go well. One company actually hired someone with a Ph.D. in computer science; that went really well. To me, that indicates how serious they take it,” Joyner said.

But a high-tech computer system isn’t always needed to assure compliance.

“What’s interesting is that one of the companies that had absolutely no violations had everything on a 3-by-5 card, and it was a fairly large company. Our first assumption was this may not be really good, but it was outstanding. The person who was custodian of records was very detail oriented, very sharp and the 3-by-5 cards were absolutely perfect,” Joyner said.

Joyner remarked that there are three common problems that he and his team have seen, including: 1) failure to properly cross-reference data; 2) missing IDs; and 3) illegible IDs.

On the cross-referencing problems, Joyner said he thinks “a lot of companies didn’t fully understand the law. They probably didn’t have any attorney representing them that was providing them counsel on 2257, so they thought ‘I have to have photo identification and I have the titles they appeared in and that’s good enough.’ Most of the companies would have that much. If they shot movie X and they had ten performers, they would have, in the file labeled ‘Movie X,’ the ten performers’ photo identification and they felt that’s all they needed. And it’s not. What other stage names have they used? What other maiden names have they perhaps used? What other films or books have they appeared in? That’s what’s required.”

The cross-referencing problems, however, are starting to be eliminated.

“What we’re seeing now is that once companies realized they needed all that, they’re getting it all on board. They do have the cross-reference system. Most of them have a database that they can retrieve that information,” Joyner said.

When it comes to illegible IDs, Joyner noted the typical problems are that “either the date of birth is not legible or the facial identification is just an ink blot,” adding that “if you can’t read what the year is, that’s a problem. Most of the time, it’s a copy that had been Xeroxed time and time again, so you finally end up with an ink blot.”

Although no underage performers have been discovered during any of the inspections, Joyner said there have been two occasions where records “indicated they had underage performers” when, in fact, the people in question turned out to be at least 18 years old.

One of those cases involved a performer who borrowed a roommate’s identification and the other centered on an eastern European performer.

In the latter case, Joyner said the company “had ID on record that showed this person was 16 or 17 at the time of the performance. We looked at it and said, ‘There’s a problem here.’ They said, ‘Oh no, no. We must have just put the wrong ID in there. Here’s the right one.’ We were able to research it and find that the performer that they said it was actually was in L.A. during that time period – when the movie was filmed – and the other was not. It turned out to be true.”

Joyner noted that he expects to find at least a few underage performers as more Internet-based companies are inspected.

“My belief is there are several out there, but we have not discovered them in a 2257 inspection. I think it’s more likely that we’ll find that when we get more involved in the Internet companies,” Joyner said.

Although the FBI is not required to provide advance notice of its intent to search a specific company, Joyner noted that he has provided a heads up in two instances where the records were kept at private residences.

Joyner praised the industry on several matters, including the cooperation that he has experienced during the actual inspections.

“Every place that we’ve been to – and I think it’s because they received good counsel from their attorneys – has been very cordial. They understand the law and they understand they can’t delay us, so it’s been a very professional relationship. That’s been a surprise,” Joyner said.

In addition, he lauded the record-keeping practices of some companies, noting that “good companies have no problem being in compliance or getting in to compliance.”

“We see movement to improve the record keeping because they understand the need. Before, as a business owner, you may have thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll get to that eventually, but nobody’s inspecting it anyway, so why worry about it,'” Joyner said.

“Now that they know we’re out there and looking, and it is a serious issue if they have violations, we see evidence of companies taking this much more seriously and correcting their violations. Companies that have not been inspected yet, we’re seeing them taking action to improve their system,” added Joyner.

In terms of the future, Joyner said FBI intends to conduct “at least one inspection every two weeks, if not more” for the foreseeable future. The names of about 1,200 companies are in the FBI’s current database, he added.

“Right now we have 1,200 companies, but I don’t think that’s anywhere near the number that exists because we really haven’t gotten that far into the Internet companies,” Joyner said.

Future inspections will not be limited to southern California.

“I would say that, within a month, we’ll start doing some companies outside of California,” Joyner said.

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