Later, Crimmins moved to Cleveland, and in seeking support groups and fellow-survivors online, he inadvertently discovered that there were chat rooms for pedophiles on AOL—a great many of them, categorized extensively. In those days, the Internet was widely unregulated; when Crimmins tried to alert AOL he found the company to be unresponsive. Then he contacted the police. In 1995, Crimmins testified about child pornography in Congress, using his superior rhetorical skills against AOL’s director of government affairs in front of an audience that included Strom Thurmond and Russ Feingold. The hearings led to heightened awareness and a zero-tolerance policy for pedophiles on AOL; the police district that Crimmins contacted has since made more than a thousand indictments related to Internet child porn.
Comedian Barry Crimmins testified before Congress the dangers of online pedophiles congregating in AOL chat rooms back in 1995. As shocking as this scandal has been to some, I am not surprised, precisely because I am aware of Mr. Crimmins’ crusade against AOL.