An Australian gay couple had their 6-year-old son taken from them by child protection authorities in Los Angeles while the FBI and Australian police investigate claims they are members of an international pedophile ring.
The boy, born to one of the men with a Russian surrogate mother, was removed from the couple's custody during a vacation in the US in October, according to News.com.au.
News cites a report by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services as saying that the FBI is also investigating allegations that one of the men "is suspected of sexually abusing [the child]. They are also suspected of exploiting [the child] through child pornography and obtaining [the child] for the sole purpose of exploitation."
The department says it obtained a video showing the boy "watching a film of pornography with another child and speaking in an explicit sexual manner," News reported.
Police have already searched the couple's house in Cairns, in the northern Australian state of Queensland.
The men insisted on their innocence in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, but admitted that: "It looks really bad."
The men reportedly said they were accused of the crimes after three gay men whom they had contact with through social media — and whom they later visited in in the US, New Zealand and Germany — were arrested as members of a international child porn ring.
The US connection was reportedly a lawyer and an old friend of the boy's father who was arrested in New Jersey and charged with distributing child pornography on the internet.
According to the Herald, the men said they were victims of prejudice in Australia and the US against gay fathers.
Asked by the Herald to explain their contacts with child pornographers, one of the men said: "These are three people out of 20 people we know. You never know who you pick. You never know who you're with. You never even know if the person you're married with is something as well. We would never hurt our child."
A Los Angeles court is to decide whether the child will be removed permanently from the couple's custody.