Although the internet plays an instrumental role in connecting people from around the world, it can also be used by offenders as a dangerous tool to facilitate sex crimes from the security of their homes. The distribution and solicitation of online child pornography has grown throughout the years. Sexual predators pose as younger adults looking to befriend children in an attempt to organize a sexual meeting or to engage in sexual dialogue with the child over the internet. While it may seem safe to engage in ‘personal’ matters from home, Wisconsin law enforcement has a developed strategy to catch online sexual predators.
One man started an online relationship with what he thought was a 13-year-old girl, but later proved to be a law enforcement officer. He is currently serving a 15 year prison sentence for sending pornographic material to the officer, initiating a graphic conversation with her and ultimately arranging to meet the ‘child’ in person.
In 2006, La Crosse County organized an Internet Crimes Against Children task force which works to catch individuals who are engaging in cyber crime. Wisconsin law enforcement is making every attempt to keep child predators from fulfilling these crimes through the internet.
The ICAC does this by creating undercover online profiles with the goal to friend the sexual predators. Once they begin a relationship, they are able to gather incriminating evidence that may lead to the criminal’s incarceration. The internet makes it easy to send pictures, videos and even engage with people one-on-one through a webcam device.
Sexual predators face extreme penalties if convicted of criminal charges. They are also required to register as a sexual offender and may suffer the consequences of their crime for many years to come. Contacting a criminal attorney may be beneficial in helping people formulate a strong defense case.
Source: LaCrosse Tribune, “Online predators target area children,” Anne Jungen, May 22, 2014.