Even before last week’s roundup of suspected purveyors of child pornography, there were no fewer than seven cases involving child porn or Internet use to facilitate child molestation working their way through the Effingham County court system.
There are few crimes that evoke more reaction and outrage from the community than those of either a violent nature or those against the most helpless members of society. With the protection of the most innocent among us in mind, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has been an active member of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. The task force stretches across the state with the goal of apprehending those who use the Internet and wireless devices, seeking to exploit children for their own reprehensible means.
Investigator Joe Heath has been the ECSO’s linchpin in finding and tracking down online predators, those individuals using social media or other ways to contact what they believe are young people to set up sexual encounters, and those disseminating images and videos of children engaged in despicable acts.
The ICAC also has ways of finding what was on a suspect’s computer, even after that suspect believes the information has been wiped clean. There are tools and training at law enforcement’s disposal to track down messages, posts, pictures and videos a suspect may believe have long since been deleted and removed from their files.
The Effingham County ICAC task force also provides training for other law enforcement personnel and prosecutors, and it also enables teachers and parents to understand what they need to be on the lookout for and what they can do to help.
Aggressively tracking down and prosecuting those who prey upon children for their own prurient interests is a noble and worthy endeavor, and we wholeheartedly applaud the sheriff’s office for its dogged determination in that quest.
But getting the guys who swap child porn amongst themselves is one thing — finding and prosecuting those who make it is another. That is likely well beyond the reach of the ECSO and perhaps even the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Somebody, somewhere, is using children to make pictures and videos of the most heinous nature, circumstances in which no child should ever be engaged. That may take national and international resources to find those responsible for generating that material in the first place.
In the meantime, until the sources of child pornography are shut down completely, going after its users and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law may help, little by little, preserve some innocence for another child somewhere.