ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today joined U.S. Attorneys Catherine Hanaway and Bradley Schlozman to highlight the ongoing efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as community leaders, in combating the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in St. Louis.
Attorney General Gonzales was also joined in today’s roundtable by Director of Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Joe Laramie, Founder of the INOBTR campaign Steve Shankman, and other members of the Project Safe Childhood initiative for the state of Missouri.
Launched in May 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
Last year, the Department of Justice prosecuted 1,543 cases involving the sexual exploitation or abuse of children. In the state of Missouri, more sexual predators were federally indicted on a per capita basis than in any other state in the country. Additionally, the number of cases prosecuted in the state of Missouri has more than tripled since 2000.
“Protecting our children is not only a parent’s responsibility, it should be everyone’s responsibility,” said U.S. Attorney Hanaway. “The people assembled here today have made that commitment, which is reflected in the increase in the prosecutions of these crimes.”
“As a result of Project Safe Childhood's unprecedented effort to bring an entire community together to tackle the problem of online child exploitation, predators and would-be predators are now fully aware that their actions will not be tolerated in the state of Missouri,” stated U.S. Attorney Schlozman. “Rest assured, we will find you, we will aggressively prosecute you, and we will make sure you will never be in a position to harm the vulnerable youth in our communities ever again.”
Project Safe Childhood partners for the Eastern District of Missouri include: Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC); Regional Computer Crime Education and Enforcement Group; St. Louis City Police Department; St. Louis County Police Department; Festus Police Department; Pevely Police Department; FBI; Postal Inspection Service; ICE; St. Louis Circuit Attorney; St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney; O’Fallon Police Department; St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department; St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney; Franklin County Sheriff’s Department; Big Brothers Big Sisters; Hoover Boys and Girls Town; Family Resource Center, Inc., and Kaminer & Co.