Crime Grants to Help Find and Prosecute On-line Child Sex Offenders
RALEIGH, NC (September 6, 2016)…State grants from the Governor’s Crime Commission are providing nine law enforcement agencies, including the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, with the latest forensic equipment that can extract enough computer information to prosecute child sex offenders in court.
Predators, targeting children of all ages, can make contacts through gaming and social media sites like Xbox, Wii, Kik or Snapchat. Video chat sites such as ooVoo or Omegle allow children to talk with random people throughout the world.
“The best line of defense starts with parents who should know their children’s internet passwords and check their online communications regularly,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “Protecting children is a priority, and these Crime Commission grants will help law enforcement find and prosecute child sex predators.”
This past May, a 30-year-old Brevard man was sentenced to 17 years in prison for child pornography and for telling an undercover officer his “idea of kidnapping, sexually abusing and murdering a child,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District, that prosecuted the case.
“This case was the spring point that got us noticed for this grant,” said Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney. “Every community has problems with sex offenders, and as our communities have become mobile, the problem can be anywhere, any time.”
The Governor’s Crime Commission allocated $362,000 in grants for forensic equipment, training and overtime funds to sheriffs’ offices in Rockingham, Onslow, Cumberland, Cherokee, Moore, Transylvania, Warren and Wilkes counties, as well as the Gastonia Police Department. Future plans include additional counties.
“These grants are allowing law enforcement to combat sexual exploitation locally, nationally and internationally,” Mahoney said. “We now are able to obtain a host of evidence to levy against the perpetrator in court.”
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in North Carolina was developed in response to the increased number of children and teenagers using the internet and the increased activity of online predators seeking underage victims for photographs or physical contact.
“Having sexual predators freely enter our homes and access our children, despite locked doors, is a real problem,” said State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Alan K. Flora, who oversees North Carolina’s ICAC Task Force. “We welcome Transylvania County’s participation as a member of the ICAC Task Force to help remove online child sex abuse images and stop child sex predators from using the internet as a way to find unsupervised contact with underage victims.”
The SBI has 12 full-time employees working on ICAC, and more than 150 state and local law enforcement agencies are listed with ICAC. More online training is needed, according to Flora. Last year, the SBI received 2,371 cypertips and issued 1,100 subpoenas or court orders concerning the investigation of offenses committed against children.
Detectives obtain leads from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, websites and community tips. If anyone has information on a child sex predator, contact the local police or sheriff’s office, or enter a cybertip through The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website: www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.