Cybele K. Daley, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Training Conference
San Jose, CA
May 31, 2006
Thank you, Ron [Laney]. I want to express my appreciation to Ron for his hard work and long-time leadership in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He and his staff have been behind the ICAC program since the beginning, and they are true champions of America 's children.
It's a pleasure to be here representing the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, Regina Schofield. Assistant Attorney General Schofield is also the National AMBER Alert Coordinator, so she has two important roles to play in protecting children. I'm glad to be able to assist in both capacities.
I'd like to thank the city of San Jose and the San Jose Police Department for hosting this important conference. I want to say a special thanks to Chief Davis for his personal support and commitment.
I also know that there are quite a few conference co-sponsors – too many to name, unfortunately. I want to say “thank you” to all of them as well.
I'm excited to be here. The timing of this conference is perfect. Last week, we commemorated National Missing Children's Day. As part of our ceremony, Attorney General Gonzales honored 13 law enforcement officers for their dedicated and valiant service on behalf of children.
Two of the honorees were from over in Fresno – a detective from the Fresno County Sheriff's Department by the name of Kevin Wiens and an ICE agent by the name of Mike Prado.
Detective Wiens and Special Agent Prado investigated a man who had been uploading child pornography and sending it through e-mail. When they searched his house, they found evidence that he had molested a 12-year-old girl whom he had coached in softball.
The man confessed to both the sexual abuse and the trading of the pornographic images, and he was arrested.
Detective Wiens and Special Agent Prado discovered during the course of the investigation that the main distributor of the images was a toy store and hobby shop owner in Pennsylvania . They traveled across the country to question him and obtained a confession. They also discovered tens of thousands of child pornographic images.
I don't have to tell you, it's that kind of doggedness and persistence that your work requires. I also don't have to tell you that this case is just a snapshot of what can happen in almost any child pornography investigation.
So often, what prompts an investigation is only the tip of the iceberg. A case of a few pornographic pictures downloaded by a single individual turns into thousands of images traded across the country. And often, child pornographers turn out to be more than just harmless peddlers of a distasteful product. In many cases, they are vicious sexual predators. The illicit commerce of pornographers can be just the first step in an accelerated march toward sexual violence.
When you, our law enforcement officers, shut down a pornography ring, you're not just stopping a couple of perverts from exchanging dirty pictures. You're preventing a potentially violent criminal from carrying out his worst designs.
I truly regret that anyone has to investigate these disturbing crimes. I wish it were otherwise. Sadly, though, these criminals are not just going to go away. In fact, if anything, they're getting bolder.
Let me give you a few statistics:
By one estimate, some 50,000 predators are trolling the Internet for children at any given time.
Our own Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention tells us that one child in every five receives a sexual solicitation or approach online.
OJJDP also tells us that one in 33 is aggressively solicited. That means that he or she gets a call, mail, money, or gifts from a pedophile, or is somehow asked to meet the solicitor.
Pedophiles are becoming more enterprising. Up in Sonoma County , the Sacramento Valley ICAC arrested a man who allegedly used an online video game to gain access to a teenage boy, whom he then molested. Online games are just one of the many new avenues that the Internet has opened up to criminals.
These predators also are increasingly sadistic. A recent report from OJJDP gives a disturbing profile of child pornographers. According to the report, most pornographers have images of prepubescent children and of graphic depictions of sexual activity. And one in five has images of sexual violence to children.
We're not talking about innocuous expressions of deviant tastes. These are portraits of shocking crimes against the youngest members of our society. And sadly, this practice is widespread and growing. Your jobs are not getting any easier.
That's the bad news. The good news is that we're sending help.
On May 17, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood. Project Safe Childhood is a Justice Department-wide initiative aimed at preventing the online exploitation and abuse of children. It's modeled on Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Administration's highly successful effort to fight and reduce gun crime and gang violence. By linking federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, prosecutors, community leaders, and community organizations, Project Safe Neighborhoods has drastically increased gun prosecutions and helped to bring down crime rates in communities across the country.
Project Safe Childhood takes its cue from Project Safe Neighborhoods. It has two components: First, it's designed to help families take precautions against online predators. It includes a program to raise awareness of the threat of cyber-enticement, and provides tools and information to parents and kids to help them report possible violations.
Its second component is support of investigation and enforcement efforts. And this is where the ICAC task forces come in.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is the foundation of Project Safe Childhood. The Silicon Valley task force is one of 46 task forces set up throughout the country. These task forces are supported by funding from the Office of Justice Programs.
The task forces have played a critical role in stopping Internet criminal activity targeting children. Since the inception of the program in 1998, ICAC task forces have made more than 7,300 arrests. In 2005 alone, ICAC investigations led to more than 1,600 arrests and more than 6,000 forensic examinations.
These task forces have been pivotal in shutting down online operations that prey upon the young. An ICAC task force was involved in closing down an international child pornography ring two months ago. Among the thousands of images that had been traded were streaming videos of live molestations. Twenty-seven defendants from four countries have been charged in that case.
And just to give you an idea of how challenging cases like that can be, that investigation involved 12 ICE offices, state, county, and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutor offices in two states, and local, provincial, and national agencies in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. Moreover, nine U.S. Attorneys' Offices are prosecuting cases resulting from the investigation.
Clearly, the assistance and coordination that ICACs provide are crucial to resolving these cases. Not all cases are so wide in scope, but all of them are challenging in their own right.
Closer to where I live, back in Virginia , an ICAC task force caught a 40-year-old diplomat from the United Arab Emirates . The diplomat had chatted online with a 13-year-old girl, sending sexually explicit comments and asking, in graphic terms, for sexual favors.
He finally arranged a meeting with the girl. But when he arrived at the appointed spot, he was met by deputies from the Bedford County Sheriff's Office. As it turns out, the girl was actually one of the deputies. The diplomat was arrested and charged, but officials were forced to release him after he requested diplomatic immunity. He has since left the country.
That case is a good example of the kind of obstacles you're likely to run into. The Internet has obliterated barriers. For the most part, that's a good thing. We have instant access to information, and we can stay in easy touch with our friends and family. But it also means that predators have instant access to our children.
We at the Office of Justice Programs recognize how painstaking you need to be when investigating these cases. We also know that this kind of work can be as unsettling as anything you do.
We're committed to supporting you in your work. This year, we provided $14 million to help ICAC task forces. Project Safe Childhood adds to our financial commitment the promise that we at the federal level will do all we can to work with and support you.
Just as he did with Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Attorney General has directed every U.S. Attorney to develop a community strategy. He expects that within 90 days, they will have submitted road maps that include steps for involving community partners, increasing federal prosecutions, training law enforcement officers, and coordinating education initiatives. In addition, the U.S. Attorneys will be required to report on their progress every six months.
The Attorney General is serious about going after these perpetrators. In fact, he has issued a challenge to the ICAC task forces, urging them to, quote, “investigate and prosecute more sexual predators and child pornographers than ever before.”
I want to second that challenge, and to back it up with a deal: You focus your efforts on bringing child pornographers and sexual predators to justice, and we'll make sure you get the support you need to do it.
Vigilance is the buzz word when it comes to cyber-enticement cases. Pedophiles and pornographers have found creative ways of getting to children and of sharing their conquests with their peers. And as long as they're able to communicate, they'll feed off of one another's sicknesses, and the violence of their acts will escalate.
It's up to you to stop them. The making and distributing of child pornography is bad enough. Unfortunately, often that's only the beginning.
The Office of Justice Programs and the Department of Justice want to help you put an end to this despicable practice and make sure that online predators are punished appropriately.
I hope that you will answer the Attorney General's call to widen your net of activity. We will be with you all the way.
I thank you for your commitment. I appreciate your hard work. And I am truly grateful for all that you do to protect our children.