Our History

NOTE: For the best viewing and reading experience, please view this page on a fullscreen Chrome or Brave browser using a laptop or desktop computer.

Since 1962, NCOSE has been an advocate for human dignity, a voice for those who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation, and a driver of personal and cultural change.

This experience has given us a unique, panoramic perspective enabling us to see that we cannot separate different forms of exploitation as we seek lasting solutions and that the work for human dignity is not and cannot be limited by partisanship or sectarianism of any kind.

The movement to end sexual exploitation looked much different in 1962 than it does today, but this core truth remains: NCOSE’s successes are a beacon of hope to all those who felt voiceless and powerless to confront the destructive impacts of sexual exploitation on their lives.

1960s: Operation Yorkville is born

The Context
World War II is fading farther into the rear-view mirror, the economy prospering, and the middle class expanding. Yet, the stage has been set for unprecedented changes in the sexual mores of the times. The seeds of these changes—such as the publication of Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Hugh Hefner’s Playboy (1953)—are taking root. Law enforcement officials turn a blind-eye to violations of local, state, and federal obscenity laws. Communities wrestle with how to respond to the increased exposure of children to pornography for sale at magazine stands of retail stores.
The Spark
In the fall of 1962, an anonymous individual places sadomasochistic material on a corner outside St. Ignatius School on Manhattan’s east side. A 10-year-child finds the material and shows it to other school children. A mother confiscates the material and brings it to a meeting of mothers. As a result, Rev. Morton A. Hill is asked by his superior to look into the matter to see how widespread the problem is. Father Hill investigates and recruits other religious leaders including Rabbi Dr. Julius G. Neumann and Rev. Robert E. Wiltenberg to the cause of protecting children from exposure to pornography.
Early Stages
As a result of the incident at the school, on December 3, 1962, Operation Yorkville begins as an inter-faith initiative headed by three clergymen: Rev. William T. Wood, Rector of St. Ignatius Loyola; Rev. Robert E. Wiltenberg, Pastor Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church; and Dr. Julius G. Neumann, Rabbi Congregation Zichron Moshe. The minister, rabbi, and priest are drawn together by their mutual concern for children and their desire to shield them from the harmful effects of pornography. From the outset, they are guided in their efforts by Father Morton A. Hill, a Jesuit priest who serves as the group’s Executive Secretary. The organization soon assembles a dedicated steering committee which works together with an energetic and active group of volunteers.
The Work
The goals of Operation Yorkville include: 1) educating parents and community leaders about the increasing danger resulting from the distribution of pornography, and 2) encouraging communities to press for the retention and enforcement of existing obscenity laws. Powered only by volunteers and with limited funds, Operation Yorkville conducts hundreds of community meetings in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It alerts citizens to the dangers of pornography, and helps organize 120 local citizens’ groups. Letter writing campaigns are launched; a speakers’ bureau is formed; spokespersons for the organization appear on countless television and radio programs. The organization studies, analyzes, and publicizes information on important, obscenity law-related judicial decisions, in addition to publishing a monthly newsletter which is distributed to a readership of nearly 20,000 across the nation.
Taking Root
Headquartered for nearly four years at the rectory of St. Ignatius House (Father Hill’s home), in August 1966 Operation Yorkville moves to larger quarters at 1280 Lexington Avenue. The organization now serves the greater metropolitan area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Even though the organization is based in the northeast, its impact is felt nationwide: some refer to it as “Operation America.” Its efforts earn the commendations of the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City, among many others. Operation Yorkville hires its first employee, Evelyn Dukovic, and incorporates as a nonprofit in 1967.
New Name and Leadership
In the summer of 1968, at the request of potential affiliate groups in other parts of the country, Operation Yorkville changes its name to Morality in Media. Father Morton Hill is elected as its president and administrative director. Though the name changes, the organization’s mission remains the same: to counter the effects of pornography on children and youth and to bring about vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws. The organization establishes a National Crime Research and Reference Library on the Law of Obscenity to serve the nation’s prosecutors. The organization is firmly established as a non-sectarian, non-political, anti-censorship, and pro-law enforcement entity engaging in public policy advocacy and public education.
Scroll Down to Continue
Previous slide
Next slide

1970s: Momentum Builds Under Morality in Media

  • 1970 - Presidential Commission Report

    The Johnson Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography issues its report that calls for the repeal of all local, state, and federal obscenity laws. The President and Senators from both parties reject the report, instead accepting the minority report submitted by MIM President Father Hill and Dr. Winfrey Link. [READ MORE]

  • 1973 - U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

    In a series of landmark decisions, the Court clarifies federal law and stands on the historical precedent that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. Using the Hill-Link Minority Report as a source, the Supreme Court cites it once in the text and three times in the footnotes of these decisions.

  • 1976
    National Obscenity Law Center

    A clearinghouse of information on obscenity law for the nation’s prosecutors and other interested attorneys. [LAW CENTER TODAY]

  • 1977
    More Join The Movement

    In Utah and New York, thousands of people gather to rally against pornography and massage parlors. Relentless activism by MIM and its supporters helps spur passage of state obscenity laws, laying the groundwork stronger obscenity law enforcement.

  • 1981 - 39-City Town Meeting Tour

    MIM leads a “Town Meeting Tour” to educate on the emerging “cableporn” problem. Father Hill is widely quoted saying, “Pornography is no longer just downtown, it’s downstairs.”

  • 1983 - Meeting with President Ronald Reagan

    Father Hill and national leaders meet with President Ronald Reagan to plead for aggressive enforcement of federal obscenity laws. Father Hill presents President Reagan a briefing book with detailed recommendations for action against pornographers across U.S. federal agencies. 

  • 1985 - Meese Commission Formed

    U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III forms a commission to study the effects of pornography and ways to control it.

  • 1986 - Final Report of the Meese Commission

    The final report of the Attorney General’s Report on Pornography, popularly known as the Meese Report, is released. MIM releases a summary of the nearly 2,000-page report and calls on supporters to send letters appealing for enforcement of federal obscenity laws.

  • 1986 - Pledge of Vigorous Obscenity Prosecution

    At a news conference, U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III pledges to enforce federal obscenity laws and lays out a 7-point program. following the receipt of more than 150,000 letters from concerned citizens.

  • 1987 - White Ribbon against Pornography Week

    Norma Norris, of Butler, Pennsylvania, organizes the first White Ribbon against Pornography (WRAP) Week together with MIM.

1980s: Turning the Tide

1990s: The Battle Goes Online

July 1991
Morality in Media testifies before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the concept of the “Pornography Victims Compensation Act of 1991.” The bill would allow a victim of a sexual crime to recover damages from the producer, distributor, exhibitor, or seller of obscene material or child sexual abuse material (child pornography), if it can be shown that the material was a substantial cause of the crime.
April 1995
Morality in Media reports that some cable television subscribers and/or their children are being exposed to hardcore pornography via inadequately scrambled pay-per-view channels. The primary culprits are the Spice and Playboy channels. MIM’s guide “What to Do about ‘Cable Versions’ of Hardcore Pornographic Films on Your Cable TV System” equips supporters with tactics to combat the problem.
June 1997
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Reno v. ACLU that key provisions of the Communications Decency Act are unconstitutional. The decision leaves intact Section 230 of the CDA, which overtime is interrupted by the courts to give websites hosting third-party content immunity from liability for crimes facilitated on their platforms. This disastrous ruling sets the stage for a lawless Internet and an explosion of sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation online.
September 1997
A nationally representative poll of Americans conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for Morality in Media finds that 80% of Americans support vigorous enforcement of federal obscenity laws against hard core pornography.
November/December 1998
Morality in Media reports that data it obtained from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that US Attorneys in fiscal year 1997 began only six prosecutions in which federal obscenity violations were the lead charge, down from 42 in 1992, a drop of 86%.
November 1999
Omni Hotels announces that it will remove adult pay-per-view from its guest room televisions. This decision was instigated by a 1996 letter from Morality in Media to the owner of Omni Hotels.
Scroll Down to Continue
Previous slide
Next slide

2000s: Online Exploitation Explodes

While the advent of Web 2.0—characterized by high-speed Internet, improved data storage technology, and the rise of websites where virtual communities can post user-generated content—ushers in a dynamic new age of global communication, the technology also gives pornographers and other sexual exploiters direct access to children via home Internet access. Many of the children coming of age in this decade are exposed to voluminous amounts of pornography. Morality in Media launches the website, obscenitycrimes.org, hosts press conferences, and submits amicus briefs in key court cases. 

Watch this presentation from Lisa A. Thompson, Vice President of Research for NCOSE, as she dives into the history of the major social media platforms through the early 2000s and how they have impacted our culture – specifically young people. This presentation was given at the 2018 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit

Play Video

2010s: New Era as National Center on Sexual Exploitation

In 2010, attorney Patrick A. Trueman, former Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division at the U. S. Department of Justice, becomes President and CEO of MIM.

With the addition of Dawn Hawkins as Executive Director in 2011, the two begin to shift and expand the work of the organization.

In 2015, Morality in Media changes its name to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), recognizing that pornography’s harms are inextricably linked to issues such as sexual violence, child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, and more. NCOSE’s efforts in the realm of public and corporate policy secure giant leaps forward in moving mainstream corporations to stop profiting from or facilitating sexual exploitation.

Looking Ahead

Already in the early 2020s, NCOSE is advancing the cause of human dignity with greater momentum than ever before.

NCOSE Law Center

Filing trailblazing lawsuits against profiteers of sexual exploitation, bringing justice to survivors and systemic changes to corporations

Research Institute

Harnessing the power of data to create a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation

Corporate Advocacy

Naming and changing mainstream corporations facilitating or profiting from sexual harm through grassroots advocacy and direct consultation

Training & Education

Equipping leaders and the public with the resources to create a world free from sexual exploitation

Legislative Policy

Advocating for good legislative solutions and stopping bad ones while educating national governments, Congress, and state legislatures

In September 1970, the Johnson Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography— mandated by Congress to recommend ways to effectively and constitutionally regulate the traffic in obscenity and pornography—issues its report.

The Commission’s majority report calls for the repeal of all local, state, and federal obscenity laws. Commissioners Father Hill, Dr. Winfrey C. Link, and Charles H. Keating strongly dissent. Father Hill and Dr. Link, a Methodist minister (with assistance from Dr. Victor B. Cline, University of Utah psychologist, attorney Paul J. McGeady, and MIM’s Evelyn Dukovic) co-author the Hill-Link Minority Report of the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. The report famously calls the majority report “a Magna Carta for the pornographer.” The Hill-Link Minority Report exposes data omitted or concealed by the majority which clearly pointed to the devastating effects of pornography.

Coalition To End Sexual Exploitation #pornharms #endexploitation

Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Forms

Patrick and Dawn transition the organization to unite political perspectives, religious and secular leaders, academics, law enforcement, medical professionals, educators, and more through the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE). CESE Global Summits became a regular training ground for leaders and activists around the world.

Dirty Dozen List Launches

Corporate responsibility advocacy moves to the next level with the Dirty Dozen List annually naming 12 mainstream contributors to sexual abuse and exploitation. This activism tool educates but also equips the public to hold companies accountable for facilitating or profiting from sexual harm and has led to transformative changes for entire industries, including retail, hospitality, technology, advertising, cable/satellite, and more.

The issue of pornography

Addressing the Public Health Harms of Pornography

NCOSE shifts culture to recognize the public health harms of pornography through research, public and Congressional briefings, and robust media outreach with academics. This leads to 16 States passing resolutions on the public health harms of pornography. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told CNN that “Pornography can be connected to other public health issues like sexual violence and occupational HIV transmission.”

The NCOSE-authored resolution declaring pornography to be a public health crisis has passed in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

Craigslist and Reddit finally get out of the Sex Trade thanks to FOSTA-SESTA

Tech Held Accountable for Sex Trafficking with Passage of Landmark Legislation: SESTA-FOSTA

After years of joint advocacy, Congress passes SESTA-FOSTA, removing immunity from websites who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking and giving victims a path to justice. Major online prostitution and sex trafficking platforms are taken down; Backpage.com is seized by the FBI and its executives prosecuted. The prostitution marketplace is severely weakened and it becomes harder for sex buyers to order exploited children and adults.

Giant Leaps Forward in Child Safety Online

Responding to NCOSE’s corporate advocacy campaigns, child safety options for caregivers are finally released by popular technology platforms YouTube Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix and Amazon Prime.

NCOSE Law Center is Established

The NCOSE Law Center serves as the catalyst for dozens and soon hundreds of lawsuits against mainstream profiteers of sexual abuse and exploitation. In 2020, the Law Center files the first class-action lawsuit against Pornhub, a groundbreaking lawsuit against Twitter for sex trafficking two young boys, and others.

NOTE: For the best viewing and reading experience, please view this page on a fullscreen Chrome or Brave browser using a laptop or desktop computer.