Justice Funds Pursuit of Online Child Predators

Article excerpt

Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Justice Department yesterday gave $5 million in new funds to Project Safe Childhood, a two-year-old law-enforcement initiative that targets child predators who use the Internet and other technology to sexually exploit children.

The money will fund 43 new assistant U.S. attorney positions nationwide to prosecute suspected offenders, said Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who made the announcement during visits to the U.S. attorneys' offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Lexington, Ky.

"Explicit images of children on the Internet are not only increasing in number, they are becoming more depraved. To be clear: We're not talking about innocent family snapshots, we're talking about the most horrific crimes imaginable, like videos depicting the graphic sexual assault of children, and even infants, traded around the world like baseball cards," Mr. Filip said.

"These are tough cases. They take an emotional toll on investigators and jurors. But we know we cannot stop, because however difficult these cases are for people in law enforcement, it is nothing compared to the suffering of child victims and their families," he said.

Mr. Filip said the Justice Department set out to marshal the efforts of federal, state and local authorities, as well as nonprofit organizations, "for the sake of these children" and has been encouraged by the success of the program nationwide.

In fiscal 2007, indictments were sought against 2,218 defendants, a 27.8 percent increase over fiscal 2006. Prosecutions in 332 child-exploitation cases also resulted in the forfeiture of more than $5.2 million in assets - a 492.7 percent increase over fiscal 2006. …