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Officials declare open season on child predators

Source: 2 The Advocate News
Date: November 06, 2003

Cyber Crime From a report by WBRZ's Ken Pastorick

After capturing its first child predator suspect a few weeks back at a Baton Rouge hotel, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is continuing to attempt to lure out child predators in Internet chat rooms.

Casey Howard, a 6-foot-2-inch member of the High-Tech Crime Unit investigative team, spends his days online posing as an innocent 13-year-old girl in an attempt to lure out pedophiles.

"In some chat rooms I've even heard the younger the better," Howard said.

On Wednesday afternoon Howard logged into Yahoo's 13-to-14-year-old chat room, and within minutes he had someone claiming to be 18 making advances, typing things like, "I love feeling you" and "I wish to be with you."

"Generally they will ask, 'What are you wearing?', 'Are you wearing panties today?', 'What color are your panties?'" Howard said. "And things like, 'Put your hand under your shirt for me', 'Put your hands in your pants', and 'Are you a virgin?'"

Howard is only allowed to respond, as the investigation does not allow him to make advances. Within minutes of joining the teen chat room Howard's fictitious 13-year-old character has five "guys" engaging in provocative conversation. One man even used a web cam to expose himself and masturbate. The man claimed to be 17, but investigators believed the man to be older.

"Some 13-year-old may end up walking away from the house or providing too much information in a chat room that may lead a pedophile to that 13-year-old, and you may not ever see the child again," Howard said.

With children soon to be home for the holidays, investigators say it is a perfect time for child predators to prowl the Internet. The Attorney General's investigators advise parents that a home computer should be in a central location that can be monitored, and that they should warn their children about online predators and immediately any of suspicious activity to the High-Tech Crime Unit.

Howard also said for every chat that develops into an online "relationship," he turns away 50 or more.

Original article

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