Anyone who watches the news, reads the paper, or has a Facebook, undoubtedly knows of the growing number of individuals arrested and charged with a variety of sex crimes. One might think these cases simply fall into the lap of law enforcement or are discovered after someone files a report with the police; but the reality is an entirely different scenario. Don’t believe me? Just click here, here, here, here, also here, and here. Notice anything these articles have in common? All involved sting operations or organized efforts to find people potentially involved in illegal activity. Oh yeah, and these were just a fraction of the cases charged and reported on in the last 10 months.
So how does it work? Let’s break it down. Law enforcement typically employ agents, or even Task Forces to target individuals who may be engaged in illegal activity. For example, let’s talk about “Todd.” In a case of possession and distribution of child pornography, law enforcement agents or Task Forces are running search terms through their databases that specifically search for computers using search terms that tend to be used in connection to child pornography. Once law enforcement has a “hit” they can track “Todd” through his IP address. Don’t doubt for a second that the same applies for “Todd’s” work, should he dare be on his work computer. At this point law enforcement are likely able to download the images through file sharing programs, depending on how “Todd” is accessing these images and videos. All of this allows law enforcement to charge “Todd” with possession and distribution of child pornography. Should “Todd” be charged with possession of child pornography, which is a felony, he faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.00. Additionally, and they are often charged together, should “Todd” because charged with dissemination of child pornography (also a felony), he faces up to 7 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.00.
In the case of soliciting a minor, law enforcement or Task forces typically employ a full-blown sting operation. Say what?! Click here. Just as the article describes, law enforcement typically post an advertisement on websites such as Backpage or Craigslist which seek out individuals who are willing to engage in sexual acts with minors for the exchange of money. Generally, through the exchange of text messages law enforcement can gather enough evidence of the targeted individual’s willingness to engage in this crime. Should an adult be charged with solicitation of a child, they face felony charges that would send them to prison for up to 3 years and a fine up to $5,000.00.
Other consequences of these charges include Predatory Offender Registration, Sex Offender Treatment, limited or no contact with minors, loss of employment, etc. Even being accused of these crimes have very serious, life altering consequences.
The first article was a follow up on an article the Star Tribune originally reported. The first article can be found here.