Category Archives: Child Pornography

O.U.R. Response To New York Times

Operation Underground Railroad Logo
Operation Underground Railroad

The New York Times Misses the Point:
Not Preventing Children from Being
Sexually Victimized Would be the Real
Misservice to Society

At Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), we are extremely proud to play a small part in helping to protect our society’s largest silent political constituency—the children.

A just published New York Times magazine piece raised the issue of whether one law enforcement program trying to address the problem of child exploitation, OperationNet Nanny” in Washington State, is the right approach to apprehending would-be child sexual predators.

The Times’ reporting questions whether hundreds of perpetrators, particularly some young men in their 20s, who have been identified, arrested, and successfully prosecuted for taking part in online “Net Nanny” sting operations, are being unfairly targeted and too harshly punished.

Following our mission to help protect children from sexual exploitation, our organization has become a strong supporter of Operation “Net Nanny,” a preventative-minded child protection initiative the New York Times acknowledges has a 95% conviction rate in hundreds of cases that have gone to trial.  O.U.R. is proud to back this effort and others that help prevent children from being sexually victimized in the first place.

The select cases highlighted by the New York Times (out of hundreds) were largely those of young men in their 20s with no prior criminal records.  The Times chose to only mention in passing that “some caught in stings are violent predators.”  This included 60-year-old Curtis Pouncy, whom the Times noted has “a history of brutal sex crimes” that “included raping a 13-year-old girl he picked up from a bus station as well as a 19-year-old at knife point.”  Pouncy was arrested in a Washington State “Net Nanny” operation while on supervised release in early 2019.  He is now serving life in prison.

One of the hundreds of cases the Times did not highlight was that of Bryan Earle Glant, 24, of Seattle.  Glant, a well-resourced young man, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to nine years in prison on two counts of attempted first-degree rape of a child.  Emails and text messages contained in his court record show Glant arranging through online communication to meet “Hannah,” a police officer posing as a mother, to engage in sex acts with her two daughters, ages 6 and 11.  Glant did not just discuss doing something online.  His messages were not the mere unguided explorations of a young man.  No.  He acted, showing up at the agreed location with lubricant in his pocket.

Imagine if police and their Net Nanny operation were not on the other side of the door that day.  How would the lives of those 6- and 11-year-old children have been different?

At his trial and on appeal, Glant unsuccessfully tried to argue that O.U.R.’s support of the “Net Nanny” program was “outrageous government conduct.”  We were pleased that the court rightfully dismissed those claims.  We are also pleased the court reaffirmed our lawful ability and efforts to provide tools and resources to help law enforcement agencies get those who chose to prey on our children off our streets.

The New York Times led readers to believe that there were “no victims” in “Net Nanny” cases.  This is not factual.  “Net Nanny” cases did result in the rescuing of actual victims.  While the “Net Nanny” arrests of perpetrators did not involve physical contact with a child, in several cases victims of those arrested came forward or the Washington State Police found evidence where the predators did sexually abuse a minor.  The majority of victims who came forward in “Net Nanny” cases were under the age of 11.

Throughout the life of the “Net Nanny” program, law enforcement involved in its supervised multi-jurisdictional operations followed protocols—and the judicial system agreed, clearly finding there was no entrapment under long-standing and tested legal standards.

How the judicial system decides to serve justice on those lawfully charged with violating the law is an issue left for each state to determine, including the severity of sentencing for convicted child sex offenders.

In the end, keeping child predators off the street is paramount, and we will always support law enforcement in their legal efforts to protect children, hopefully before they are preyed upon.

We believe among the best tactics in the fight to bring child sex exploiters, propagators, and abusers to justice is supporting and helping arm the good guys with better technology and expertise.  Domestically, this involves public/private partnerships that help support the nation’s law enforcement officers and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local levels in their important work by providing technology, software, expertise, and training where taxpayer budgets fall short.

This also involves sharing the latest intelligence we glean through legally authorized work O.U.R. does internationally with law enforcement, NGOs, and governments to help rescue victims of child sex exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.  To date, O.U.R. has assisted in the rescue of more than 4,000 victims globally since our first international operation in 2014.

Since our founding, O.U.R. has always worked hand in hand with law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad, and we will continue to do so, helping to provide the necessary ammunition so they are well-armed and equipped to stop predatory trollers seeking their next child victim.

Our team is composed of top former federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals experienced in child exploitation, trafficking, and digital world policing.  One of our newest team members is the former head of the Washington State PatrolNet Nanny program, Carlos Rodriguez, who joined O.U.R. this year following a distinguished 27-year law enforcement career.

We are honored to have Carlos on our team now.  Together with professionals at all levels of the public and private sectors, we can pool our knowledge, resources, and collective passion to protect children at home and abroad to make sure shrinking budgets never deter anyone from the ultimate goal: safeguarding innocent children and bringing guilty perpetrators who seek to prey on them to justice.

Law enforcement and child protection advocacy groups have done unheralded yeoman’s work in the past 20 years to strengthen efforts to combat the unconscionable exploitation of children.  But there remains so much more that must be done.

Today, the sad truth is this:  we still do not know the full extent of the enticement, exploitation, and in far too many instances, the sexual assault, of children.  In the U.S., the most developed nation in the world, the country’s leading measure of criminal victimization—the National Crime Victimization Survey—still does not measure crimes against children under 12.

Those who want to underestimate scale of the problem or claim to know with certainty who is motivated to criminally victimize a child in the many forms it takes are not being truthful.  We simply don’t know.

What we do know with certainty is that with each passing day, our children are becoming even more dependent on the Internet and increasingly engaged in the exploration of online and digital virtual worlds, even more so in the present moment with millions still staying home because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Honestly ask yourself this question—in the world we live in today, do we want law enforcement to have more resources, tools, and public and private support to combat child exploitation and abuse, or not? 

TX AG – Keep Your Children Safe Online

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The Child Exploitation and Fugitive Apprehension Units, formed and overseen by the Office of the Attorney General, work relentlessly to keep our children and communities safe.

Cyber Safe­ty

Texas children access the Internet all the time — using social media, instant messaging, apps on their smartphones and chat rooms.  But dangerous child predators lurk online, too.  They’re trying to gain children’s trust for evil purposes.

Recent studies show that 1 in 7 young people have experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online — and 1 in 3 have been exposed to unwanted sexual material online.

The Child Exploitation and Fugitive Apprehension Units, formed and overseen by the Office of the Attorney General, work relentlessly to keep our children and communities safe by arresting sexual predators/child pornographers and bringing them to justice.

The resources below are intended to help Texas parents protect their children’s safety — especially online.

10 -17 – Age range of children most often targeted by child predators online

527 – Arrests for online solicitation of a minor and promotion of child pornography in Texas

704 – Convictions for online solicitation of a minor and promotion of child pornography in Texas

Questions & Answers About Cyber Safety
in Texas

How can I help fight back against online child predators?

Knowledge is power.  Educate yourself — and your children — about cyber safety. Talk to your kids, nieces and nephews, and any adolescent who has access to the Internet about staying safe on the Internet.

Tell them:  If they receive any inappropriate contact online, talk to you immediately. It’s OK.  They won’t get into trouble.  You’re there to help protect them.

As technology evolves, so do the tactics used by child predators.  They may use social media, smartphone apps, chat rooms and more — all in an attempt to secure the trust of your children and convince them to meet in person.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® has an online program that teaches kids and adults how to be safe online.  Visit them at netsmartzkids.org

What is “sextortion”?

Sextortion is a tactic used by online predators to blackmail, groom, entice, coerce, lure and extort their victims into complying with their demands for sexual photos and videos.

These images are used by predators and, often, shared with other predators online. A single victim’s image might be shared with thousands of other predators.

Sextortion predators pose as the child’s peer (or someone of similar age) to gain their trust and illicit images.  The predator will often threaten to share the victim’s photos online unless they receive more images.

If you suspect a child has been targeted for sextortion, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.  You can also simply dial 9-1-1.

What challenges does law enforcement face?

When it comes to finding, arresting and convicting online child predators, law enforcement agencies face several challenges.  These include:

  • Staying connected to what’s happening on the Internet both locally and across the globe
  • Advances in technology (and the tactics that child predators use)
  • The size and scope of the network of child predators who share images and tips with each other online
  • The sheer amount of potential leads to follow: The FBI recently reported that on just one anonymous Internet network, Tor, 1.3 million sexually explicit images of children were discovered

What is the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU)?

Introduced in 2003 in order to address the limited resources law enforcement has to fight back against such a large, growing threat as Internet child predators, the CEU investigates and responds to complaints of child pornography online.

The CEU is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.”  The Texas Attorney General’s CEU is one of three ICAC Tasks Forces Texas — the other two being the Dallas and Houston police departments.

Which laws protect children online?

The primary law to help protect children online is the “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).”

This law aims to protect children’s personal information on websites (and other Internet services, including apps) that are aimed at children under 13 years old.  The law also applies to any general audience website that knows it is collecting personal info from children that age.

COPPA requires these sites and apps to notify parents directly and get their approval before they collect, use, or disclose a child’s personal information.

Learn more about COPPA

Additionally, there are other federal and state laws that address cyber safety for children.  These include:

  • Electronic communication providers and remote computer service providers must notify the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline if a user commits a child pornography offense. (U.S. Code 2258A)
  • It is illegal to solicit anyone under the age of 17 (minor) — or anyone the offender believes to be under the age of 17 — online for sexual contact or to have sexually explicit communication. (Texas Penal Code 33.021)
  • It is illegal to possess or promote child pornography. (Texas Penal Code 43.26)

How You Can Help

Here is a collection of helpful resources from around the Web that will help you protect your children online.

ConnectSafely.org
Information on youth safety and social media

Chatting with Kids About Being Online
Guidance for parents and teachers

StopThinkConnect
Department of Homeland Security messages and tools to promote cyber safety

Cyber Tipline
Reporting suspected child sexual exploitation or child pornography

Cyberbullying
Texas Education Agency resources

Chat Shorthand
Parents’ guide to Internet lingo

Created Stickers Of Children Being Abused????

.jpg photo of phone as a Child Abuse graphic
Children should be supervised 24/7 until grown.

Members of Child Abuse WhatsApp
group arrested in 11 countries

“Some group members had even created “stickers”… similar to emojis – of children being abused.”

Spanish police say 33 people have been arrested globally in connection with a WhatsApp group for images of child sex abuse and other violent content.

The many “extreme” images shared in the group had been “normalised by most of its members”, the force said.

Arrests were made in 11 different countries across three continents, but the majority – 17 – were in Spain.

Many of those arrested or being investigated in Spain are themselves under 18, including a 15-year-old boy.

WARNING:  Some readers may find details of this story disturbing

In Uruguay, police arrested two people – one of whom was a mother who abused her daughter and sent images of this to the group.

In another case, a 29-year-old man was arrested for not only downloading the images, but also encouraging other group members to make contact with young girls – particularly migrants who would be unlikely to go to the police.

How were they tracked down?

Spain’s National Police began investigating the group more than two years ago, after receiving an email with a tip-off.

They then enlisted the help of Europol, Interpol, and the police in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

As well as Spain and Uruguay, arrests were made in the UK, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, India, Italy, France, Pakistan and Syria.

What did the group share?

In a statement, the police said the group shared “paedophilic content, sometimes of extreme severity, together with other content that was legal but was not suitable for minors because of their extreme nature”.

Some group members had even created “stickers” – small digital images that are easily shared, similar to emojis – of children being abused.

The police also said all of those arrested in Spain were men or boys, and that they come from a mix of social and cultural backgrounds.

One of these men had fled his home in Italy when a search was carried out.  He went to a relative’s home in Salamanca, unaware that it was Spain’s National Police who had ordered his arrest.

The operation will now focus on identifying the children being abused in the images. 

OK Couple Gets Life For Child Abuse

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Gerrad Coddington, 25, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

Pauls Valley couple sentenced to life in prison for ‘horrific’ case of Child Abuse

PAULS VALLEY, OK  –  An Oklahoma couple who was charged with crimes related to child abuse will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

.jpg photo of woman sentenced to life in prison for child sexual abuse
Christina Nelson-Coddington, 30, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

The investigation began when an agent with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office received two cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® that were reported by Facebook.

“They were seeing activity on the internet that suggested there was a minor being exploited,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said.  “The investigation discloses that the crimes that involve the minor child are incredibly distressing.”

Investigators generated over 6,000 pages of communication between the co-defendants and tens of thousands of photos and videos.

Authorities determined that underage victims were beaten, handcuffed and raped. Officials also say there was a plan to commit incest with an unborn child.

Investigators arrested and charged 25-year-old Gerrad Coddington and 30-year-old Christina Nelson-Coddington with 29 counts relating to child abuse including first-degree rape, incest, child abuse, manufacturing child pornography, and lewd acts with a minor.

A Garvin County judge recently sentenced the couple to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“These two individuals engaged in horrifying acts of abuse and violence with innocent children,” Attorney General Hunter said.  “These are evil people who presented a danger to society.  I commend Judge Edwards’ decision to hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.  I applaud the investigators with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children®, the investigator in my office with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the attorneys who worked on this case to achieve a successful result.”

Ohio Prosecutor Making A Difference For Children

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“Children are our future…”. Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown

Seven people charged in Vinton County Child Abuse cases

VINTON COUNTY, OH  –  Seven people are facing various charges for multiple instances of child abuse in Vinton County.

The Vinton County prosecutor says the seven were arrested Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury.

In a release, Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown outlined three separate cases where children under a year old were allegedly abused, and one of them died.

Kimes-Brown says in all three cases, the suspects charged have a history of drug abuse.

The indictments include:

– Nicholas Bethel, of Ray, was indicted on three counts of assault, six counts of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.

– Lacey Grant, of Ray, faces charges for endangering children, and permitting child abuse.

– Tyler May, 22, of McArthur, was indicted on several charges including assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Savannah Peoples, 24, of McArthur, was indicted for assault, child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Mark Thompson, 24, of McArthur, is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of reckless homicide, one count of endangering children, and one count of permitting child abuse.

– Hannah Beckett, 23, of West Virginia, faces several charges including child endangerment, and permitting child abuse.

– Tyler Rucker, of Jackson County, Ohio, was indicted for using a minor in nudity oriented material.

“I believe these children are our future and deserve the best that all systems can offer,” said Kimes- Brown.  “As a result, many people, through coordinated efforts, worked to attempt to bring security and justice to these victims.  I am aware that there are many others who deserve the same.  I will continue to use my best efforts and our available resources to ensure that we can provide them the safe environments that they need to heal and thrive.”

Her statement goes on to say, “As a result, at this time, I am asking that our local communities and our state come together to have a hearty discussion about our priorities in addressing the issues that face these children and the systems obligated to protect them.  Further, I ask that once that discussion occurs that we take strategical action to implement our priorities and we fund them appropriately.”