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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Attorney General Lynch Recognizes Child Exploitation Task Force With Award for Distinguished Service

Team Honored at Annual Justice Department Ceremony

            WASHINGTON - Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today recognized a team from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for its exceptional work against child exploitation and human trafficking in the Washington, D.C. area.

            The team members were among 376 Justice Department employees and 47 individuals outside of the department to receive Attorney General Awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.  Today’s 64th annual ceremony recognized individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the missions of the Department of Justice.

            The Washington Metro Child Exploitation Task Force was honored with the award for Distinguished Service, one of the Justice Department’s highest honors. The task force, consisting of members from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, MPD, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has played an instrumental role in identifying, disrupting and dismantling the most egregious perpetrators in child exploitation and human trafficking within the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and beyond its area of responsibilities.  The team has demonstrated a history of success in penetrating the secret and often reclusive cyber world of child predators.

            “The Attorney General’s Awards provide us with a rare opportunity to honor the efforts of outstanding department employees and our invaluable partners across the federal government and at the state and local levels,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “Their work has made our nation – and our world – stronger, safer and more just, and I am proud of and inspired by each and every one of them.”

            “These awards are a fitting tribute for a longstanding task force whose members literally work around the clock to rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation,” said U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips. “The selfless teamwork and unwavering dedication displayed by the Child Exploitation Task Force are emblematic of the tremendous and critical work being done each day by law enforcement to protect vulnerable victims from dangerous predators who lurk in cyberspace and our community.”

            “The members of the Washington Metro Child Exploitation Task Force have done exemplary work in protecting the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.   “These agents, analysts, and task force officers have worked tirelessly and skillfully to investigate, disrupt, and bring to justice those who exploit and abuse children.  Every day, they are faced with some of the most challenging and critical work in law enforcement, and today they have been honored for their truly heroic work.”

            “Through collaboration with our partners and an unwavering dedication of each agency to make the Internet safer for children, we will continue to ensure the safety of our children as a top priority,” said Peter Newsham, Interim Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

            The Distinguished Service Award is one of the Justice Department’s highest honors for employee performance. Recipients exemplify the highest commitment to the Justice Department’s mission. The team members who were honored today include Cyber Division Supervisory Special Agent Brenda K. Born, Supervisory Special Agent Andrew Patrick Leithead, Special Agents Sean P. Clark, Jenny M. Cutalo-Patterson, Tonya Sturgill Griffith, Alicia M. McShane and Jennifer N. Edwards and Intelligence Analyst Heather L. Gordon Ph.D., all from the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Detectives Jonathan K. Andrews Sr. and Timothy R. Palchak, from the Metropolitan Police Department; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea L. Hertzfeld, Cassidy M. Pinegar, Ari B. Redbord and Lindsay J. Suttenberg and Computer Forensic Examiner John E. Marsh, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia.

            In announcing the award, the Justice Department commended the task force for its extraordinary dedication, innovative techniques and commitment in identifying and prosecuting these predatory offenders.  During 2014 and 2015, the work of the recipients resulted in the rescue of numerous children who were victims of ongoing abuse and exploitation. Undercover officers act swiftly when they learn of victims of sexual abuse and child pornography, and their work has led to arrests of defendants in Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, and other locations. The task force also assisted in identifying and locating more than 60 victims of sexual abuse and child pornography.

Press Release Number: 
Updated November 10, 2016