BOSTON - Over 750 stakeholders from all of New England participated in a half-a-day lecture at Mechanics Hall in Worcester to learn about child sexual predators. The event, hosted yesterday by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and supported by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, included a wide range of participants including prosecutors, investigators, police officers, school resource officers, forensic interviewers, probation officers, correctional treatment counselors, sex offender registry staff, victim advocates, educators and service providers.
The featured presentation by Dr. Michael Bourke, Chief Psychologist with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, exposed participants to the risk factors, pathology, motivation, recidivism and treatment of child sexual predators. Dr. Bourke, formerly a clinical psychologist in the Sex Offender Treatment Program at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Butner, N.C., also provided an in-depth overview of the psychological and behavioral characteristics of Internet sex offenders. He co-authored a study at FCI Butner which showed that 85% of men arrested for possession of child pornography had also victimized a child.
During his presentation, Dr. Bourke said, the Internet "allows men who believe their actions are anonymous to access material that feeds their fantasies, provides them an avenue to communicate with children, and encourages their associations with like-minded individuals. These activities lead to the facilitation of additional crimes."
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in her opening remarks, “The Internet is a powerful tool for child sexual predators who are operating underground – networking and sharing their collections of child pornography and child abuse - and creating a demand for child sexual abuse. Child pornography is not a victimless crime. Each time a victim’s image is viewed by someone, the victim is subjected to repeated humiliation and degradation. Knowing that others have sought pleasure in their misery - and not having the ability to stop the distribution of their image - is a source of great anxiety for victims.”
The event also highlighted federal, state and local collaborative efforts centered around locating, apprehending and prosecuting child sexual predators pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). SORNA, which is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, allows federal prosecutors to charge child sex offenders who have failed to register where they live, work and go to school and when they have traveled across state lines. Among other things, this statute also applies to those who fail to keep their registrations current. The U.S. Marshals Service is charged with investigating this crime which has penalties of up 10 years in federal prison and up to 30 years if a crime of violence is committed while non-compliant.
“The U.S. Marshals Service has prioritized enforcing the Adam Walsh Act by creating 142 new positions nationwide dedicated to apprehending these dangerous predators,” said U.S. Marshal John Gibbons . He continued, “In Massachusetts the Marshals Service is on the forefront of this initiative by partnering with the Boston Police Department to create the first sex offender task force in the country with the specific purpose of enforcing the Adam Walsh Act. This lecture was a great opportunity to let all the various agencies in attendance know about the resources available to them in our fight against the exploitation of children.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to thank the U.S. Marshals Service and the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for their assistance and support in conducting yesterday’s lecture. Additionally, special recognition goes to the Child Sexual Predators Task Forces, Innocence Lost Task Force, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, the State Police and the many local law enforcement throughout New England who are on the front lines of investigating child sexual abuse and exploitation.