DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AWARDS MORE THAN $13 MILLION IN GRANTS TO COMBAT INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN
New Task Force Named in Chicago
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today awarded more than $13 million in grants to fund Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces nationwide. The ICAC program encourages communities to develop regional, state or multi-state, jurisdictional, and agency responses to technology-facilitated sexual crimes against children. The task forces combine the skills of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and computer specialists throughout their regions in effective enforcement efforts against Internet crime.
A newly established task force in Cook County, Ill., received $100,000, bringing the total number of task forces to 45 nationwide. The funds will provide for a Chicago-area effort to address Internet crimes against children by increasing resources for investigative and prosecutorial efforts, as well as prevention work, forensic examinations, and training for local law enforcement. A table listing task force funding is attached.
"Since their inception, the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces have made significant progress identifying and apprehending those who would prey on our children. When the innocence of our children is at stake, we must take action," said Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. "The Department of Justice is committed to its support of the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces nationwide as they work to combat this serious and rapidly growing problem of Internet crimes against children."
As of June 2005, ICAC task forces have received over 250,000 complaints of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation, which includes the possession, distribution and creation of child pornography, as well as attempts by individuals to lure and travel to meet children for sexual encounters. Investigations initiated from complaints have led to over 5,740 arrests, forensic examinations of more than 22,000 computers, over 10,600 case referrals to non-ICAC law enforcement agencies, and provision of training for more than 134,000 law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
"As individuals, we have a responsibility to provide love and guidance to our children; as a society, we have a collective duty to defend our children from predators who would stalk them," said J. Robert Flores, Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. "The Internet Crimes Against Children task forces were developed to prevent child abuse and punish abusers, and this joint effort between local and federal law enforcement will send a strong message to those who would exploit our children."
In May 2004, the ICAC's Operation Peerless identified 3,500 computers worldwide that shared child pornography using peer-to-peer networks. Over 65 individuals were subsequently arrested and prosecuted for distributing and possessing child pornography while using peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Since then, 10 more individuals have been arrested and are awaiting prosecution.
In separate operations starting in October 2004, the ICAC task forces have identified over 350,000 unique Internet provider (IP) addresses globally linked to computers containing known images of child pornography and have now recorded over one million transactions worldwide of computers sharing child pornography movies and images.
In 2004, undercover investigations resulted in the ICAC task forces having contact with nearly 2,000 individuals, resulting in over 500 arrests of individuals intent on meeting children for sexual encounters.
Below are several examples of the work of the ICAC task forces:
A 31-year-old convicted sex offender contacted a 14-year-old girl while he was on parole. The two became close and arranged to meet. Over the course of a week, the sex offender repeatedly raped the young girl during their encounters. His girlfriend reported his contact with the 14-year-old to the police, who notified the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office. The case was directed to the Ohio ICAC task force. The man was arrested, pleaded guilty to sexual battery and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
A 30-year-old admissions officer at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio communicated with a supposed 12-year-old girl over the Internet while at work. Although he knew that sexual activity with a minor was illegal, he indicated he would like to meet her for a sexual encounter, which he described in detail. In reality the 12-year-old girl was an undercover agent of the Ohio ICAC task force. The man arranged to meet the young girl, but was instead approached by law enforcement from the ICAC task force, arrested for importuning and attempted rape and sentenced to six years in prison.
ICAC task force members have been asked to help train law enforcement worldwide in methods to combat Internet crimes against children. ICAC task force presentations, publications and public service announcements have reached hundreds of thousands of teenagers, parents, educators and others interested in safe Internet practices for young people.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.