News and Press Releases

Guilford County Shefiff And United States Attorney Announce Receipt Of Grant and New Public Service Announcement Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2008

Combats Sexual Exploitation of Children Online

Greensboro, NC – United States Attorney Anna Mills S. Wagoner and Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes held a press conference today announcing the funding and formation of a regional task force and new public service announcements designed to combat the increase in internet-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children.

Child Sexual Predator Program Grant

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office was one of 23 agencies in the nation which received a Community Oriented Policing (COPs) grant from the US Department of Justice. North Carolina was fortunate to receive 3 of the 23 awards. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office received the highest award in North Carolina and the 11th greatest amount awarded in the United States.

This grant, the Child Sexual Predator Program, is designed to fund innovative programs which will allow law enforcement agencies to establish and/or enhance strategies to locate, arrest, and prosecute child sexual predators and exploiters and to enforce state sex offender registration laws. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office received $475,960.00 to establish a multi-jurisdictional task force.

Upon award of this funding, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office has established the Piedmont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Partnering with the U. S. Attorney’s Office and the local District Attorney’s Office this task force will concentrate on those attempting to solicit children by computers to commit unlawful sex acts as well as efforts to enhance existing sex offender registration and compliance. This task force encompasses 3,412 square miles and serves 1,316,630 citizens. Participating agencies include:

  • Guilford County Sheriff’s Office (lead agency)
  • Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
  • Randolph County Sheriff’s Office
  • Davidson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office
  • Alamance County Sheriff’s Office

The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department was recognized by the U.S. Attorney’s office due to the aggressive approach to those who threaten our children. Two years ago, a position was established to target those perpetrating internet crimes against children. Since that time, 4,688 contacts have been made with predators. The “Apartment X” sting operation ran from August 2006- October 2006. A total of 10 suspects traveled to Guilford County for the purpose of having sex with what they believed to be a minor child. Of the ten suspects arrested, nine have been convicted and one case is still pending.

The overwhelming consensus of law enforcement is that this type of crime is rampant. With this funding, the Piedmont region of North Carolina, headed by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, will aggressively target predators. The grant will provide resources to ensure that when these predators who swim in the murky waters of child pornography and the internet and hide behind monitors and keyboards target North Carolina children—LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL BE THERE. For those who do, we are coming for them.

Public Service Announcement Campaign

The Department of Justice recently unveiled an innovative national public service announcement (PSA) campaign to educate parents about the potential dangers that their children face online and, for the first time, warns potential online predators that exploiting a child online is a serious federal offense.

The four new PSAs were developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Project Safe Childhood Partners INOBTR (“I Know Better”), iKeepSafe and the Hispanic Communications Network.

“We are determined to combat the sexual exploitation of children,” said U.S. Attorney Anna Mills Wagoner. “For every sexual predator behind bars, there is at least one victim, one child, who may never fully recover from the damage of sexual abuse. By raising public awareness and vigorously prosecuting violators, our goal is to reduce the number of these victims to zero.”

iKeepSafe developed one of the PSAs, entitled “Know Where They Go,” to highlight the risks children face on the Internet. The PSA illustrates how, in the digital world, children can travel anywhere, and it is important that parents monitor what sites their children visit and who they are talking to. Elements of this campaign include television, print, radio and Web advertisements. For more on this PSA, please go to www.KnowWhereTheyGo.org.

INOBTR created a PSA entitled “Exploiting a Minor is a Major Offense.” This cutting-edge campaign is designed to warn potential online predators that exploiting a child online is a serious federal offense. Elements of this campaign include television, movie theaters, print, radio and Web banners. For more on this PSA, please go to www.stopanonlinepredator.org.

The Hispanic Communications Network (HCN) produced two large separate series of Spanish-language PSAs for television, radio, print and the Web. The first targets parents, while the second targets potential predators. The potential predator PSA seeks to inform low-level offenders or individuals looking for child pornography images online or attempting communication with minors that law enforcement is actively pursuing them, and that their illegal activity could have lifetime consequences. Like the INOBTR ad, it gives a compelling message to stop and think about the consequences of this serious federal crime. The Spanish-language ads can be found on www.ProtegelosAhora.org for the parent campaign and www.NoTeArruines.org for the potential predator campaign. In addition, HCN produced an English-language short video for online distribution. The video, or Webisode, illustrates the dangers children face online and urges parents to become informed and involved, and to supervise their children’s Internet and mobile phone activity.

Launched in May 2006, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department’s Criminal Division, and Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, 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.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood and the public service announcements, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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The Office of U.S. Attorney

Ripley Rand

honors April as

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assualt, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at:

1.800.646.HOPE

Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee

Training and seminars for Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.

Victim Witness Assistance

Making sure that victims of federal crimes are treated with compassion, fairness and respect.

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