Category Archives: Good People

TX AG – Keep Your Children Safe Online

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General Logo
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

No More Pancho Villa, Robin Hood, Zorro, Only Violence Remains

.jpg photo of ms-13 gang member that killed young girl
Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 17, of Bladensburg, MD.

17-year-old gets 50 years for MS-13 gang
murder of 14-year-old MD girl

UPPER MARLBORO, MD  –  A 17-year-old MS-13 gang member was sentenced Monday in the beating death of a 14-year-old girl in Riverdale last April.

Josue Fuentes-Ponce of Bladensburg was one of four gang members charged in the murder of Ariana Funes-Diaz of Adelphi.

.jpg photo of young girl killed by ms-13 gang members
Ariana Funes-Diaz, 14, of Adelphi, MD.

He entered a guilty plea in October to first degree murder.  He was sentenced to life in prison with all but 50 years suspended.

Prosecutors said that the gang members drove together to an apartment complex in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue in Riverdale on April 18, 2019.

The group then lured Funes-Diaz into a wooded area behind the complex where she was killed.  Police found her body in a creek on May 15, 2019.

.jpg photo of ms-13 gang member that killed young girl
Joel Escobar, 18, entered a guilty plea in November and is scheduled for sentencing on February 26.

She was killed because the others thought that she was going to report them for a crime they committed together in D.C., police said.

Co-defendant, Joel Escobar, 18, entered a guilty plea in November and is scheduled for sentencing on February 26.

A trial is scheduled in April for co-defendant, Edwin Rios, 19.

The charges against a 14-year-old girl were handled in juvenile court.

CO Man Pleads Guilty To Child Abuse

.jpg photo of colorado man whose son was found encased in concrete
Leland Pankey, 40, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

Father of Denver boy found encased in
concrete pleads guilty to Child Abuse;
murder charge dropped

DENVER, CO  –  The father of a 7-year-old Denver boy found encased in concrete in 2018 has pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge in the case, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the murder charge against him.

Leland Pankey, 40, was charged with murder in Caden McWilliams’ death in May.  In a hearing on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with a deceased human body.

The murder charge was dropped in the deal.  Pankey now faces up to 72 years in prison.

“This agreement provides justice for Caden while ensuring that Mr. Pankey will serve a significant amount of time behind bars,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release Thursday.  “This is one of the most horrific cases ever handled by the Denver DA’s Office and we were acutely concerned about re-traumatizing Caden’s family as well as the jury, judge and everyone else involved should this case proceed to trial.”

Pankey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.

The body of McWilliams was found encased in concrete in a storage unit in the 5000 block of East Evans Avenue in Denver on Dec. 23, 2018.

McWilliams’ mother, Elisha Pankey, also pleaded guilty in August to one count of child abuse resulting in death.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner ruled in a report in March that Caden had been malnourished and had cocaine metabolite and methamphetamine in his system.  The boy also had numerous injuries to his head, torso and extremities, according to the autopsy.  He may have suffered from asphyxia, dehydration or hyperthermia, but that couldn’t be confirmed, the autopsy said.

In an interview with police in March, Elisha Pankey told investigators that Leland Pankey abused Caden while they were living in an extended-stay hotel, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.  The couple and their two children had moved into the hotel in May 2018, and Leland Pankey watched the children while Elisha Pankey went to work, she told investigators.

Elisha Pankey said Caden died in July 2018 after his father kept him in a dog kennel, the affidavit said.  A woman who had been in the Arapahoe County Jail with Elisha Pankey in December said Pankey told her that she believed her son suffocated in the dog kennel.

Leland Pankey kept Caden in the kennel overnight – with blankets on top of it – and the boy cried out that he was hot and thirsty, Elisha Pankey told her fellow inmate, according to the affidavit.

On the day Caden died, his mother and father bought Quikrete, trash bags and water, drove Caden’s body to the storage unit on Evans Avenue, and mixed the concrete and poured it into the kennel, the affidavit said.

The boy’s body wasn’t discovered until December, when officers responded to a domestic violence call involving the Pankeys.

Police learned that the couple had two children, and Elisha Pankey told officers that the children were with their father.  When police contacted Leland Pankey, he said one child was in daycare, but he avoided answering questions about Caden, eventually telling officers the boy was with his mother, the affidavit said.

When officers interviewed a woman whose name was redacted in the affidavit, she told police that Leland Pankey had lost his son and that Pankey said her family could have their storage “because it had too many memories,” the affidavit said.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Pankeys’ storage unit and found Caden’s remains inside.

MO Expert Accused Of Child Sex Abuse

.jpg photo of missouri sex offender expert accused of child sex abuse
Kurt M. Bumby, 50, from 2008 photo while working with Hawaiian lawmakers on sex offender policies in that state.

Sex offender expert arrested on
Child Abuse charges

COLUMBIA, MO  –  A Columbia forensic psychologist and national leader in the field of sex offender management has surrendered to St. Louis Metropolitan Police on warrants for child sex crimes in two Missouri counties.

Court filings show Kurt M. Bumby, 50, was arrested Friday by St. Louis Metropolitan Police on a Boone County warrant for two counts of statutory sodomy and a St. Louis warrant for two counts of sodomy.  Bumby was booked into the St. Louis County Jail and posted a $200,000 cash-only bond — $100,000 each for the two sets of charges — to secure his release.

Defense attorney Joel Schwartz did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

Bumby for nearly two decades served as an advisor on sex offender management to governmental agencies across the nation.  He is accused of molesting two children in incidents in both counties, the oldest of those charges stretching back to 1988.

In November, Bumby was paid $280,000 to present a report to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Court spokesman Aaron Nash on Monday said the court will conduct a review of the report, which was authored by Bumby and another, but many of the recommendations seem to be in line with what many experts say are current best practices.

“Most were not controversial, they were things like treatment should be specific to the individual,” Nash said.  “But this is a big deal, so it’s something the Arizona Court is taking back to the National Center for State Courts, who provided the study, just to check back in and ask is there anything in here that reflects bias, is there anything that needs to be revisited.”

In the report, Bumby advocated for the elimination of polygraphs for juveniles, which Nash said has met with some controversy.  In light of the recommendation, Nash said the court did agree to a judicial officer approval before the test could be administered.

“So it (a polygraph) is still an option, but a probation officer or somebody has to make the request to a judge, with the information why they think it’s appropriate for this child and this incident, and then the judge makes a decision,” Nash said.

Missouri Supreme Court spokeswoman Beth Riggert said on Friday she was unable to locate anything which showed Bumby had presented or made any recommendation to the courts in Missouri.

From 2003 until Jan. 1, during much of the time the alleged abuse was taking place, Bumby was a senior associate with the Center for Effective Public Policy, a position in which he discussed with and presented to judges, state officials and policymakers across the nation trends in the rehabilitation and recidivism of sex offenders.

As part of his duties, he has been the director of the Center for Sex Offender Management.  He also served as principal assistant to the director of the Division of Youth Services in the period from about 1999 to 2003 and prior to that as a psychologist at Fulton State Hospital.

In the Boone County case, investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol wrote that Bumby sodomized a child who was a family friend multiple times between 2008 and 2015 at Bumby’s home in Columbia.

The case involving the St. Louis child dates 1988 to 1994, while Bumby was attending school at the University of Missouri, and again stemmed from a relationship he had with the victim’s family.  He would visit the victim’s home on the weekends and began abusing them.

NY DOE Official Arrested For Child CyberCrime

.jpg photo of ny doe official arrested for child cybercrime
David A. Hay, 39, the NY deputy chief of staff to schools chancellor.

Education Official in N.Y. Is Accused of
Facilitating Child Sex Abuse

A high-ranking official in New York City’s Department of Education was arrested on Sunday in Wisconsin and accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, according to police officials there.

David A. Hay, the deputy chief of staff to schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza, was taken into custody at an airport in Milwaukee following an ongoing undercover investigation, said Officer Stuart Zuehls, a spokesman for the Neenah, Wis., police department.

Authorities in Wisconsin notified New York City officials hours after the arrest.

The Department of Education said it fired Mr. Hay after the arrest.

“These allegations are incredibly disturbing and absolutely unacceptable,” Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement.  “We took immediate action removing Mr. Hay from payroll and are terminating him.  We referred this to the Special Commissioner of Investigation and we will fully comply with any investigation.”

Mr. Hay, 39, did not regularly interact with students as part of his job, which was based at department headquarters in downtown Manhattan.  Before moving to New York, however, Mr. Hay was a school principal in two Wisconsin school districts.

Officer Zuehls declined to offer more information about the charges or why Mr. Hay was arrested at an airport.

Under Wisconsin state law, someone who is accused of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime is defined as a person who “uses a computerized communication system to communicate with an individual who the actor believes or has reason to believe has not attained the age of 16 years with intent to have sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the individual.”

It is not yet clear when the investigation into Mr. Hay was launched, or whether Mr. Hay has obtained a lawyer.

The investigation was conducted by the Neenah police department, with help from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, though it is not yet clear what precise role the Milwaukee police played.

The investigation is ongoing, and there is no information yet about when Mr. Hay will be arraigned.

Mr. Hay grew up in the small town of Antigo, Wis., about three hours from Milwaukee, according to a 2017 interview.

Mr. Hay has served under both of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schools chancellors: Mr. Carranza, who was appointed in the spring of 2018, and former chancellor Carmen Fariña.

He rose quickly in the Department of Education after joining in May 2016, first serving as a special assistant to Ms. Fariña while he was still a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then helping oversee major programs — including the Renewal School initiative to help struggling schools — before being promoted to a deputy chief of staff last October, according to his page on LinkedIn.

He maintains an active Twitter account where he promotes Department of Education events and positive news stories about the department.

He spoke about his work at the Department of Education in a 2017 news item for the Harvard Graduate School of Education School’s website.

“To jump to the largest school system on the planet is incredible,” he said.  “It’s humbling, challenging, and really promising.”