Today’s News: Utah ICAC Investigates Child Abuse Images on Pinterest, WV ICAC Research Results in New System and Child Pornographers Face Tougher Laws in Illinois

May 31 — The Utah Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force has opened investigations into a dozen cases of people posting images of child sexual abuse on Pinterest boards. Pinterest is a content sharing Internet service that allows members to images, videos and other objects to a non-password protected pinboard. Most Pinterest members use the site to share recipes, decorating ideas and hobby-related interests.

Utah ICAC Field Commander Patty Reed told a reporter from the Salt Lake City Deseret News that she was incredibly surprised to find that people were using the public site to share child pornography. Ken Wallentine, head of Utah ICAC, told reporter Pat Reavy that learning people were posting these images to Pinterest left him dumbfounded that people would be so incredibly brazen. He speculated that posters may be using the site to fish for other images of child sexual abuse.

Reed told the newspaper that all 12 incidents were brought to the ICAC’s attention by Pinterest officials who were being proactive in monitoring the site for inappropriate material. Charges in all 12 cases are pending.

West Virginia: Research conducted by the West Virginia ICAC has led the state to become one of just five in the country that will use a computerized system that allows law enforcement officers to share information directly with Child Protective Services.

Felony drug arrests in two West Virginia counties will be entered into the Drug Endangered Children Tracking System (DECSYS), which should help child protective services better identify cases where children are being abused or neglected. According to Colonel C.R. Jay Smithers of the ICAC Unit of the West Virginia State Police, children whose parents are substance abusers are three times more likely to be verbally, physically and sexually abused or neglected than other children.

Research conducted by the West Virginia State Police ICAC Unit led to use of the new system in two counties; it is expected to go statewide soon.

Illinois — New legislation passed in Illinois this week toughens laws for people who possess and distribute images of children being sexually abused. The legislation clarifies current Illinois law to allow prosecuting attorneys to charge suspects for each individual item of alleged child pornography in their possession.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office operates the Illinois ICAC, praised legislators for giving law enforcement the strongest tools at its disposal to put these offenders behind bars for years. She said the law also is important in that it supports that state’s consecutive sentencing model that requires courts to impose mandatory consecutive, rather than concurrent, sentences for child pornography-related offenses.

May, 31, 2013