Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office Implements Attorney General’s New National Strategy to Prevent Child Exploitation
Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood Program Aims to Deter Pedophiles and Save Children from Abuse
Baltimore, Maryland – Seeking to enhance public awareness about the prevalence of child sexual abuse following several recent high-profile cases, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office today distributed copies of the Attorney General Eric Holder’s “National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction” to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that participate in the Maryland Project Safe Childhood program.
The 280-page report released by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday describes the scope of the problem and summarizes steps that federal, state and local law enforcement authorities are taking to combat it. One criminal defendant described in the report, who is believed to have had sexual contact with more than 125 children, explained how the internet magnifies the danger posed by pedophiles by giving them unsupervised access to a limitless pool of potential victims:
"You have your work, your hobbies and your family. My thoughts are occupied with kids and sex. When I'm at work I'm looking online for kids; when I get off work at 5:00, I'm online looking for kids for sex; when I wake up in the morning, I'm online looking for sex with kids."
The new strategy provides the Justice Department’s first comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism and commercial sexual exploitation, and it includes a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes. The report shows a dramatic increase in the frequency of exploitation, as well as an evolution in the violent character of the abuse, a trend towards younger victims, an increase in the proficiency of the offenders, and a growing threat posed by criminals who exploit children for commercial gain. The strategy builds upon the department’s accomplishments in combating child exploitation by establishing specific, aggressive goals and priorities and increasing cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government and the private sector. The full strategy is available on the internet. <www.projectsafechildhood.gov/>
“Although we’ve made meaningful progress in protecting children across the country, and although we’ve brought a record number of offenders to justice in recent years, it is time to renew our commitment to this work. It is time to intensify our efforts,” said Attorney General Holder. “This new strategy provides the roadmap necessary to do just that – to streamline our education, prevention and prosecution activities; to improve information sharing and collaboration; and to make the most effective use of limited resources. Together, we are sending an important message – that the U.S. government, and our nation’s Department of Justice, has never been more committed to protecting our children and to bringing offenders to justice.”
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “Investigations and prosecutions of criminals who sexually exploit children continue to increase in Maryland thanks to the coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. Unfortunately, recent cases demonstrate that we still need to warn parents about the extraordinary risks that pedophiles pose to children, both on and off the internet. Children are most vulnerable to victimization by people they know and trust, not by strangers. We must enhance our efforts to deter pedophiles and save children from abuse.”
PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD IN MARYLAND
Project Safe Childhood is a unified and comprehensive strategy to combat on-line child exploitation and abuse that combines law enforcement efforts, community action and public awareness. There are five essential components to Project Safe Childhood in Maryland: building partnerships, law enforcement coordination, training, public awareness and accountability. Additional information is available on the internet. < www.justice.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html >
FEDERAL CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS
In Maryland, child exploitation prosecutions have been filed in federal court against 157 defendants since October 2006, the start of Maryland’s Project Safe Childhood program. The cases include prosecutions of online enticement of children to engage in sexual activity, interstate transportation of children to engage in sexual activity, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, and other offenses. Based on the work done by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, and in recognition of the increasing workload in this area, the Department of Justice has granted Maryland two new full-time attorney positions to prosecute crimes against children.
Examples from recent cases include the following:
1. Child Pornography
On June 15, 2010, Jaroy Emory Gilmer, age 29, of Parkville, Maryland, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for production of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.
An FBI agent conducting an undercover investigation in Illinois downloaded 23 images of child pornography from a file sharing program on Gilmer’s computer in Maryland. As a result, FBI agents subsequently searched Gilmer’s home and seized his computer. On May 19, 2009, a 12 year old Maryland girl who was learning disabled told authorities that Gilmer, who had supervisory custody or control of the girl, had taken pictures of her naked. Gilmer admitted taking sexually explicit pictures of a 14 year old Maryland girl over whom he also had custody or control. A forensic review of Gilmer’s computer revealed 750 images and 20 videos of child pornography, including prepubescent children, toddlers, and sadistic images of bondage, as well as sexually explicit pictures of the two girls.
2. Online Enticement
The U.S. Attorney’s Office works extensively with local, state and federal officers who repeatedly check online internet sites to determine whether predators are looking for children, and also pose as children themselves in order to catch pedophiles and protect real children.
On January 5, 2010, Vincent Louis Karczynski, age 21, of Calumet City, Illinois, was sentenced to serve 71 months in prison, followed by supervised release for life, after Karczynski pleaded guilty to traveling from Illinois to Baltimore to have sex with a minor. According to Karczynski’s plea agreement, Karczynski contacted a 12-year-old girl living in Glen Burnie, Maryland on Myspace.com around October 2008. They continued to converse over the Internet on Myspace.com and Gaiaonline.com websites, and spoke and texted each other on their cell phones. They discussed meeting to have sex.
Karczynski flew to BWI airport on March 27, 2009 and met the girl at Marley Station Mall around 9:45 p.m. Karczynski and the girl “made out” while they watched a movie in the theater. They met again at the mall the next day and had sexual contact during another movie. Karczynski wanted the girl to come back with him to the hotel he was staying at in Baltimore, but the girl refused.
3. Child Prostitution
On July 19, 2010, Lloyd Mack Royal, III, a/k/a “Blyss,” age 29, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was sentenced to 37 years in prison followed by 10 years supervised release for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking of a minor; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; conspiracy to distribute drugs; and distribution of drugs to persons under 21, related to a scheme to prostitute three minor females.
Royal sought troubled young girls and through physical violence, drugs, guns, and lies, coerced them into prostitution for his own benefit.
Witnesses testified that Royal coerced two additional minors to engage in sex, for which he was paid; threatened to harm the girls and their families; struck the girls; and held one of the girls at gun point. In order to assert his authority over the girls, Royal would forbid them from contacting certain individuals and forced them to kiss his pinky ring. Royal drove the girls to hotels in Gaithersburg, Maryland, or caused them to be transported from Maryland to the District of Columbia, to have them engage in sex.
On several occasions, testimony showed that Royal gave the girls illegal drugs before forcing them to engage in sex with him in order to test the girls’ sexual aptitude. Royal and his co-defendants provided the girls with cocaine, “dippers” or “ciga-wets” (cigarettes dipped in phencyclidine liquid known as PCP), marijuana and alcohol before coercing them to engage in sex with customers, and sometimes sold cocaine to customers. Witnesses testified that Royal gave the girls instructions on pricing for different sexual acts and instructed the girls to lie about their ages.
Paul Raymond Green, a/k/a “PJ,” age 25, of Washington, D.C., and Angela Samantha Bentolila, age 27, were sentenced to 52 months and 15 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the sex trafficking conspiracy.
The Project Safe Childhood Task Force holds regular meetings and training sessions, including at least two events each year to which all members participate. At the most recent meeting, held in Glen Burnie on May 21, approximately 50 local, state and federal police and prosecutors discussed investigative techniques and recent cases.
In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with the Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, trained 10 state and local law enforcement officers in the use of new technology that allows officers to conduct forensic examinations of computer media while still on the scene of a search warrant, instead of submitting the computers for expert review that often takes many months. On-scene forensic review often allows officers to learn immediately if there is child pornography, resulting in better evidence analysis, more effective suspect interviews and quicker charging decisions, thereby reducing the risk of additional harm to children in the future.
For the second consecutive year, in order to increase community awareness, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and other partners, is hosting “Safe Kids” Days at Maryland minor league baseball games. “Safe Kids” Days have been held already this summer at the Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns and Bowie Bay Sox games. Future events are planned for August 20, 2010 with the Salisbury Shorebirds and on September 3, 2010 with the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
One of the most important roles of Project Safe Childhood is education. Law enforcement agents from the Project Safe Childhood Task Force have spoken at area schools on how to protect children from solicitation over the internet. The Task Force has developed a model awareness and education program for parents and teachers, and distributed it throughout the state.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also has partnered with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to promote CLICKS, an on-line safety presentation sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.