Department of Justice Releases First National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation
U.S. Marshals Service to Launch Nationwide Operation Targeting Top 500 Most Dangerous,
Non-compliant Sex Offenders
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Following an announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder, United States Attorney Neil H. MacBride today announced that the Department of Justice released its first ever National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. The strategy also provides the first-ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation, and sexual exploitation in Indian Country, and outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes. 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.
As part of the overall strategy, the U.S. Marshals Service is launching a nationwide operation targeting the top 500 most dangerous, non-compliant sex offenders in the nation. Additionally, the department will create a national database to allow federal, state, tribal, local and international law enforcement partners to de-conflict their cases with each other, engage in undercover operations from a portal facilitated or hosted by the database, share information and intelligence and conduct analysis on dangerous offenders and future threats and trends. The department also created 38 additional Assistant U.S. Attorney positions to devote to child exploitation cases – including one in the Eastern District of Virginia – and over the coming months will work to fill the vacancies and train the new assistants in this specialized area.
“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.”
“These cases are a parent’s worst nightmare,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “These children experience the most terrible abuse, and many of them live the rest of their lives knowing others are trading the image of their abuse throughout the world. We are doing everything we can to ensure these sexual predators are caught and unable to victimize others. This new strategy will be a powerful tool in that effort.”
The strategy first analyzed the threat to our nation’s children and described the current efforts at all levels of the government against this threat. Since Fiscal Year 2006, the Department of Justice has filed 8,464 Project Safe Childhood (PSC) cases against 8,637 defendants. In the Eastern District of Virginia, 284 PSC cases have been filed against 296 defendants.
The defendants are from all walks of life, including teachers, professors, police officers, coaches, and servicemen. The charges include sexually exploiting children by creating child pornography, distributing it to others, and traveling with the intent to have sex with minors. Much of the prosecution is driven by the cooperative partnership among a wide range of federal investigative agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, inspectors general, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.
Recent cases include the following:
Alan Paul Strieper, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va., pled guilty on June 11, 2010, to planning to kidnap and rape a child as young as two years old. He was arrested when he arrived at the Norfolk airport to pick up an undercover agent posing as an accomplice. Upon searching his vehicle after Strieper’s arrest, ICE agents found two rolls of duct tape, a pre-paid Tracfone, rubber gloves, sponges, bleach and other cleaning materials, several bottles of unknown pills, and a stuffed Elmo doll.
Shawn F. Engle, 33, of Virginia Beach, Va., was sentenced to 40 years in prison on July 12, 2010, for attempting to enter into sexual relationships with two minor girls who lived outside Virginia. After meeting both girls online, Engle traveled in April 2008 from Virginia to Pennsylvania to meet one of the minors and persuaded her to engage in sexual activity with him, which he videotaped. In August 2008, Engle prompted the minor to run away with him to Virginia Beach and had a sexual relationship with her before returning her to a relative’s home in North Carolina.
Daniel A. Woolverton, 34, of Arlington, Va., was sentenced on May 24, 2010, to 27 years in prison for sexually exploiting a child. A member of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Woolverton shared child pornography using peer-to-peer software in 2009. A search of his residence found an image of Woolverton engaging in sexually explicit conduct with an infant under one year of age.
Scottie Lee Martinez, 37, of Dumphries, Va., pled guilty on July 21, 2010, to producing child pornography and abusive sexual contact with a minor. Martinez admitted that in May 2009 he produced images depicting a 5-year-old minor and an 11-year-old minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Martinez also admitted that, sometime between May 2001 and June 2004, while he was at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, he engaged in abusive sexual contact with a minor who was between the ages of 7- and 9-years-old.
Jesse Lee Wise, 25, of Arizona, was sentenced on Jan. 22, 1010, to 17.5 years in prison, for attempting to entice a 13-year-old girl from Chesapeake, Va. After chatting with the minor (and, later, an undercover detective) through MySpace, Wise traveled from his home to Virginia and pitched a tent outside the Chesapeake Public Library. He was arrested at the library while instant messaging with the undercover posing as the minor. Further investigation revealed that Wise also solicited three other underage girls and successfully pressured a 16-year-old girl to take nude photographs of herself and send them to him.
Scott Christopher Howe, 34, of Fauquier County, Va., was sentenced on June 4, 2010, to 17.5 years in prison for producing child pornography by filming himself engaging in sexual activity with a student. A former science teacher at Cedar Lee Middle School, Howe used a video camera to film the student – who was 14 and 15 years old at the time – engaging in various forms of sexual activity alone or with Howe in Howe’s classroom and at two of his residences.
Paul C. Marlowe, 21, of Chesterfield County, Va., was sentenced on June 18, 2010, to 17.5 years in prison for receiving and sending child pornography through his AOL email account. During interviews conducted during the course of the investigation, Marlowe admitted to engaging in sexually explicit conduct with six children ranging in age from 2- to 14-years-old.
The Department’s strategy outlined by the Attorney General today also lays out goals to increase coordination among the nation’s investigators, better train investigators and prosecutors, advance law enforcement’s technological capabilities and enhance research to inform decisions on deterrence, incarceration and monitoring. The strategy also includes a renewed commitment to public awareness and community outreach.
As part of its public outreach efforts, the department today re-launched ProjectSafeChildhood.gov, the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) public website. PSC is a department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.For more information regarding the National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation, Prevention and Interdiction, please visit: www.projectsafechildhood.gov/docs/natstrategyreport.pdf.