Efrem Zelony-Mindell, a former VICE contributor, was sentenced to 90 months in prison for distribution of child pornography.
Zelony-Mindell, who describes himself as a “non-binary queer” artist, was arrested in December 2022 after engaging in conversations with undercover FBI agents on his desire to sexually abuse children.
“In the conversations, ZELONY-MINDELL repeatedly expressed in graphic and unambiguous terms their desire to engage in sexual activity with minor children and sent the undercover agents numerous images and videos containing child pornography,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York said in a press release.
The press release continued:
In conversations with one of the undercover agents who was posing as the father of a nine-year-old boy, ZELONY-MINDELL made clear that they wanted to engage in sexual activity with the purported child. ZELONY-MINDELL and the undercover agent discussed a plan to meet for the purpose of ZELONY-MINDELL engaging in sexual activity with the child. When told by the undercover agent that the child would be “knocked out a little bit” on sleep medication during the planned sexual activity, ZELONY-MINDELL agreed to have sex with the drugged child.
ZELONY-MINDELL and the undercover agent agreed to meet on December 16, 2022, in lower Manhattan with the understanding that they would return to the undercover agent’s apartment afterward, and ZELONY-MINDELL would then engage in sexual activity with the child. ZELONY-MINDELL arrived at the scheduled time and location and was arrested. Subsequently, law enforcement identified thousands of images and videos containing child pornography on the defendant’s phones and computers.
In addition to the prison term, ZELONY-MINDELL, 36, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.
A renowned "non-binary queer" artist and former VICE contributor has been sentenced to 90 months in federal prison after arranging to rape a 9-year-old boy.
The Department of Justice referred to Efrem Zelony-Mindell using "they/them" pronouns in court.https://t.co/v98nmf0vE9
— REDUXX (@ReduxxMag) November 28, 2023
While the FBI’s complaint against Zelony-Mindell had referred to him using masculine pronouns, the US Department of Justice seemingly affirmed his non-binary identity and referred to him as “they/them/theirs” in their sentencing recommendation. One part of the recommendation reads “their phone alone contained approximately 2,400 videos and images of child pornography,” referring to Zelony-Mindell.
Another section reads: “the defendant attempted to sexually abuse a 9-year-old child themselves.”
The US attorney recommended an incarceration period of 120 months, but, on November 14, U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer ordered a custodial sentence of 90 months with 5 years of supervised release.
Zelony-Mindell is well known for being an artist and social justice activist, and has contributed to VICE in the past.
On his website, Zelony-Mindell describes himself as a “white non-binary queer” person and states his pronouns are “they/them.”
Zelony-Mindell has a history of painting and curating several “queer” art shows as well as being a former writing contributor to VICE.
In 2016, VICE published a piece by Zelony-Mindell in which he gushed about photographer Mary Ellen Mark and her “iconic” photos of a 13-year-old sexually trafficked child named Erin Charles. The girl “became a 30-year focus of turmoil and intrigue” to Mark, and the child “became integral to her artistic practice,” Zelony-Mindell described.