Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force
By: Dennis Guzy and Thomas Kochman

On June 2, 1997, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the United States Postal Inspection Service joined forces to form the Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force. This Task Force is designed to formalize an already successful working relationship between state and federal government in an attempt to efficiently and effectively fight child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children in our society.(1)

In doing so, the Task Force will investigate and prosecute various sex crimes against children in cooperation with a whole host of other law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania and the United States.

Child pornography can take many forms, which violate both state and federal laws.(2) It can consist of 35mm or Polaroid photographs, slides, 8mm films, videotapes, magazines, computer depictions, books or pamphlets, etc. Not only can it be secreted away for occasional viewing or prominently displayed on the Internet, it can be transferred in its many forms from one source to another. By carrying out its mission of investigating and prosecuting the sexual exploitation of children, the Task Force will strive to prevent further production, manufacturing, and transfer of child pornography, as well as to identify victims and to offer the professional assistance these children may require in dealing with the abuse. The first step in this process involves locating and identifying those individuals who maintain a sexual interest in minors. Some of these sexual predators closet themselves in secret groups or societies. Others, in an effort to seek additional victims or psychological support, will often attempt to contact like-minded persons. The Task Force will work to identify these predators before they have an opportunity to sexually molest a minor or to prevent them from repeated sexual abuse.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has long been recognized as the leading law enforcement agency in the battle against those who sexually exploit children through the production and distribution of child pornography, because the various means for promoting such activities often constitute violations of federal law and U.S. Postal Service regulations. The rapid growth of computer ownership and the use of the Internet have resulted in new sources, new markets and greater access to child victims for the sexual abuser. Offenders who communicate on line or via e-mail frequently misuse the U.S. mail to exchange child pornography, assuming it to be a reliable and anonymous channel for the trafficking of this illicit material. During the first part of the current fiscal year (10/1/96 - present), U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigations of child pornography have resulted in over 98 convictions for pornography-related offenses around the country.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has also been recognized as a leading law enforcement agency in this area with respect to its proactive "sting" operations aimed at pedophiles and child pornographers. These "sting" operations are designed to arrest and convict those individuals who actively seek teen and pre-teen children to engage in deviate sexual conduct. Because many of the child victims have been photographed and filmed performing various sexual acts, the criminal investigators are often able to use these pictures to identify and locate the victims. These victims are then put in touch with professionals who counsel those children who have suffered psychologically, as well as physically, from this abuse.

Through continued cooperation and support, the Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force will work to eradicate crimes against our children while keeping pace with today's technology. You are invited to join us in this effort. Please send any relevant information directly to the Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force at the Office of Attorney General e-mail address.

Mr. Kochman and Mr. Guzy are Postal Inspector,U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Special Agent, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, respectively.

1. In the past, the Office of Attorney General and the Postal Inspection Service have successfully cooperated with one another in an informal manner, especially in their efforts to conduct proactive "sting" operations. Their previous collaboration has also resulted in the creation of a resource center for intelligence purposes, enabling other law enforcement agencies to consult the resource center for information regarding specific cases within their jurisdictions. Because of the success of this informal cooperation between the two agencies, it seemed evident that even more could be accomplished with continued cooperation on a more formal basis.

2. The child pornography statute in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is entitled, Sexual Abuse of Children, 18 Pa.C.S. 6312. The relevant federal statute is entitled, Sexual Exploitation of Children, 18 U.S.C. 2252. Each of these statutes sets forth the various prohibited acts and provides a legal definition or interpretation of child pornography.