Photo: Mugshot of Howard Joseph Vorder Bruegge III
By Alon Sulaimani
On November 22, Howard Joseph Vorder Bruegge III, former professor at Hillsborough Community College (HCC), was sentenced to 11.5 years in federal prison with a 20 year supervision upon release for the possession and distribution of both child pornography and videos of his male students in the restroom.
Bruegge, 36 and at the time a professor at HCC, was arrested at his home on October 23, 2018 by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who discovered he was sending child pornography to Ottawa, Canada.
After searching his house, the agents found over 200 photos and 47 videos of child pornography. In court Bruegge also admitted to using a peephole to take video recordings of his students using the restrooms, which he distributed via the Internet.
This is not the first time an HCC professor has been caught abusing students and children. In 2018, 63-year-old pastor and teacher David Paul Carson was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl in Tampa. Since the arrest, HCC has not made any official statements regarding Bruegge, seeking to distance the college from his predatory actions rather than acknowledge the danger it exposed his students to.
Bruegge resigned from HCC after his initial arrest in October 2018. In March of this year, he plead guilty to the possession and distribution of child pornography, yet received a sentence much lighter than the maximum of 40 years.
The light sentence was given because of a lack of evidence showing he directly engaged in physical abuse of children, and because the defense presented Bruegge as a victim of drug abuse and depression. The defense’s hired psychologist Peter Bursten claimed his actions were inspired by fantasy and his risk for reoffending was low. Additionally, they cited a letter of “apology” written to his family, and testimonials from friends, in an effort to recast his image.
Bourgeois courts cannot provide any justice nor relief from the predations of men like Bruegge. In cases like this, the courts style themselves as defenders of justice, but it is bourgeois justice used to terrorize, jail, and oppress the proletariat and the oppressed nations of the US. Likewise, ICE raided Bruegge’s home to supposedly protect children but at the same time detains them and keeps them in cages separate from their families throughout the US.
Revolutionary campaigns like the recent ones against University of Texas professor Sahotra Sarkar demonstrate a new kind of justice, a proletarian justice, by organizing the righteous outrage among the people against sexual abuse and transforming it into action, both against the abusers and the capitalist society that enables them.