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Goodwin Calls Forensic Center Instrumental in the Prosecution of Child Exploitation Crimes

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin, Marshall University (MU) President Stephen Kopp and state criminal justice representatives met today for a guided tour of the school’s Forensic Science Center in Huntington. The tour, hosted by MU Forensic Science Center director Dr. Terry Fenger and West Virginia State Police Forensics analyst Cpl. Robert Boggs, provided officials with in-depth look at the state-of-the-art West Virginia State Police’s Digital Forensic Laboratory, along with several other units housed within the university’s Forensic Center. 

U.S. Attorney Goodwin said that protecting children from exploitation has been one of the top priorities of his office during his now 18 months as the chief federal law enforcement official for West Virginia’s Southern District.

“The West Virginia State Police (WVSP) Digital Forensics unit at Marshall is instrumental in our ongoing fight against child exploitation,” Goodwin said.  “The unit provides a broad spectrum of tools and technology which enables law enforcement to effectively investigate and my office to win convictions against the individuals who commit these despicable crimes.”

This week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted two Roane County, W.Va. men on charges associated with child pornography.  Both defendants admitted yesterday in federal court in Charleston to possessing more than 600 images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.  

The West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Laboratory unit works closely with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force which investigates crimes involving child exploitation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, pornography, prostitution, and undercover operations.  The State Police Forensics unit has also been a key affiliate working in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and has played an important role in its ability to prosecute criminals. 

he Digital Forensics Unit, working closely with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force since March 2006, has achieved a conviction rate of almost 100%.  The unit also assists the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the ongoing fight against crimes involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

The Forensic Science Center and the WVSP Crime Lab have been partnering to build digital forensics capabilities for the agency since 2005 when the WVSP Digital Forensic Unit was first established at the Center. The unit’s new laboratory in the MUFSC Annex building became operational in April 2011. The new laboratory was created through a partnership with the Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) and grant funding administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

The Center’s digital forensics area has two components comprised of the WVSP Digital Forensics Unit and a research laboratory. The center also provides a full-time and a part-time employee to assist the unit.

Dr. Fenger said law enforcement and students in the two-year Master’s degree program benefit from the win-win relationship. “Digital forensic examiners provide specialized lectures in our digital forensic courses, and the students interact with experts while pursuing their degrees,” he said. “Students complete internships in the Digital Forensic Unit, conduct research on the latest technologies and perform supplemental tasks that assist the forensic examiners.”

A video of today’s tour can be viewed at the Web address below (Provided Courtesy of Marshall’s Office of University Communications/Mike Powers).

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