Computer Crime Research Center


Fighting Child Porn in VA

Date: February 09, 2008
By: Keith Jones

Law enforcement officials have identified more than 19,000 computers with hardcore child pornography files in Virginia, but coming down on the people who are responsible for putting it there is no easy task.

"Well, a lot of it's relatively basic police work, getting online and posing as a child," says Investigator Paul McCormick.

According to the Internet Crimes Against Children database, there are a minimum of 147 computers containing child pornography in Harrisonburg, 124 in Waynesboro, and 243 in Charlottesville. Staunton was not identified in the top 30 regions for having computers with files depicting child pornography.

"You can get online and be surprised how fast predators will be," says McCormick. "We've got a 12-year-old female or a 12-year-old boy. We want people to feel comfortable that my boy's online and he's not in any danger."

The state Attorney General's office focuses heavily on child exploitation crimes over the Internet.

Gene Fishel, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Computer Crime Section, says, "We're able to track these images back to where they came from, and ultimately arrest these people because possession and distribution of child pornography is a crime."

Delegate Brian Moran of Alexandria is at the forefront of fighting this crime. He defends a bill he proposed that would increase funding for anti-child-exploitation law-enforcement efforts.

He says, "So I'll stand before any committee in this house who's going to ask about the $32 million to protect those children, because I don't believe in just talking the talk. I want to walk the walk."

McCormick says parents should monitor their children on the Internet. One piece of advice: Set up your computer out in the open where everyone can see it.

"The parent can be oblivious, so pay attention to what your child is doing. There are Internet filters, but don't rely solely on them because children are more Internet savvy than, I have a child and he probably knows more about computers than I do," says McCormick.

If you see any suspicious activity on your home computer, print out the page, and then report it to local authorities.

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