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May 27

Introduction – Like shooting fish in a barrell – several Colorado counties have ramped up their efforts to investigate and prosecute those downloading child pornography.  With penalties from life in prison, to multiple years in the Department of Corrections, – with consequences such as lifetime registration as a sex offender and literally years of “treatment” for convicted sex offenders – this story is too important to ignore.

I have prosecuted and defended dozens of these cases in 30 years of practicing Colorado criminal law – these are among the most complex of cases and need special attention from a specialist to properly defend these allegations in court.

The Story first appeared on “9 Wants to Know” in 2011 under this heading:

‘Mind-blowing’ Number Of Coloradans With Child Porn”

DOUGLAS COUNTY – A special Douglas  County Sheriff’s Office task force that began using a social network tool to catch online  predators last summer had no idea what they were in for. Investigators told 9Wants  to Know they were immediatelywere overwhelmed by the sheer number of  people in Colorado sharing and trading child pornography.

“It’s mind-blowing,” Deputy District Attorney Christopher Gallo with the Special Victims’ Unit (SVU) in the 18th Judicial  District said. “It’s everywhere. The detectives could work all day, every day,  and still not run out of work to do.”

Douglas County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the SVU expect to arrest twice as many people this year than last year who have distributed or downloaded images and videos of children as young as infants being tortured, degraded and raped.

“This is scary, scary stuff,” Lt. Kevin Duffy, who oversees the ICAC unit, said. “When law enforcement officers who are used to dealing with this type of stuff every day are cringing at some of the things they’re  seeing and some of the things they’re having to deal with, people need to take notice.”

The task force is now writing up to five search warrants a week. So far this year, it’s made five felony arrests. In 2010, the unit arrested 14 suspects for possessing child porn.

The unit began catching more suspects when it started using  peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that  work like Napster. The software opens windows into other people’s computers and allows you to view and take what’s there.

“It’s about as easy as downloading music from the Internet,” Gallo said. “It can be shared again and again and again. So it’s a  continuum of that child being perpetrated on.”

The ICAC team is made up of people like Gallo and Det. Shawn Cronce of the  Douglas County Sheriffs Department.

Cronce and Gallo volunteered for the job  and plan to stick with it, despite the hundreds of thousands of images they have to look at to find the suspects and find the children.

“We see bad things and we go into that with our eyes open. We know that on the other side of that we might be helping a child,” Gallo said

The task force says every time the picture is viewed, the child is re-victimized.

“It’s crushing to them that the possibility exists that someone they don’t know is looking at them in an awful situation. It’s crushing,” Gallo said.

“Sometimes the right thing is probation for them, the special probation that all sex offenders go on. And sometimes it’s go to prison for life,” Gallo said. “If they can be treated, if they can be contained, if they can be safe, then they go on probation and the can contribute to the community.”

The Colorado ICAC was formed in 1997.  There are now 56 participating agencies statewide and 61 across the country. All of them have the single goal to find the children in the videos and pictures and  rescue them.

Attributed to Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman at Deborah.Sherman@9NEWS.com. KUSA-TV 

Here are the Colorado Laws that apply to these cases:

C.R.S.18-3-405.4/18-3-306: Internet Luring – 18-3-405.4: Internet sexual exploitation of a child

(1) A person commits internet sexual exploitation of a child if a person, who is at least four years older than a child who is under fifteen years of age, knowingly importunes, invites, or entices the child through communication via a computer network or system to:

(a) Expose or touch the child’s own or another person’s intimate parts while communicating with the person via a computer network or system; or

(b) Observe the person’s intimate parts while communicating with the person via a computer network or system.

(2) It shall not be an affirmative defense to this section that the child was actually a law enforcement officer posing as a child under fifteen years of age.

(3) Internet sexual exploitation of a child is a class 4 felony.

18-3-306: Internet luring of a child

(1) A person commits internet luring of a child if the person knowingly communicates a statement over a computer or computer network to a child under fifteen years of age, describing explicit sexual conduct as defined in section 18-6-403 (2) (e), and, in connection with the communication, makes a statement persuading or inviting the child to meet the person for any purpose, and the person is more than four years older than the child.

(2) It shall not be an affirmative defense to this section that:

(a) A meeting did not occur; or

(b) The child was actually a law enforcement officer posing as a child under fifteen years of age.

(3) Internet luring of a child is a class 5 felony; except that luring of a child is a class 4 felony if committed with the intent to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual exploitation as defined in section 18-6-403 or sexual contact as defined in section 18-3-401.

(4) For purposes of this section, “in connection with” means communications that further, advance, promote, or have a continuity of purpose and may occur before, during, or after the invitation to meet.

 

 

 

 


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