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Blumenthal Discusses New Bipartisan Proposal to Protect Victims, Pursue Perpetrators of Child Pornography And Sexual Abuse

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Hartford, CT

Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined members of the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes and Electronic Evidence Laboratory at Connecticut State Police-Troop H to discuss the Child Protection Act of 2012 (S.3456), bipartisan legislation he introduced with U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) that is aimed at protecting young victims of child pornography and sexual abuse by strengthening law enforcement's ability to protect victims and witnesses and apprehend perpetrators.

Trafficking of child pornography images was successfully reduced in America by the mid-1980s. Purchasing or trading child pornography was risky and almost impossible to undertake anonymously. However, the advent of the Internet spawned a resurgence of the crime. In fact, trafficking of child pornography is among one of the fastest growing crimes in America -- increasing at an average rate of 150 percent per year. Despite the rapid increase in the prevalence of crime, the recent lenience in sentencing of traffickers suggests that it is not taken seriously.

Often times traffickers are also sexual predators. The Justice Department estimates that one-third of the world's pedophiles involved in organized pornography rings worldwide live in the United States. And, in a survey of identified predators:

* 19 percent had images of children younger than 3 years old;
* 39 percent had images of children younger than 6 years old; and
* 83 percent had images of children younger than 12 years old.

"This bipartisan measure confronts one of the most despicable and dangerous crimes in America -- trafficking child pornography -- by increasing penalties and strengthening law enforcement tools. One key provision is to protect victims and witnesses," Blumenthal said. "Congress should do all that it can to protect children from child predators, and this bill provides critical new means to fight it. The Internet has opened channels for this horrific crime, which we need to close."

"The Internet Crimes Against Children task force is one of the busiest units in the Connecticut State Police," Lt. Paul Vance said. "Any assistance in ridding society of the individuals who commit these crimes is extremely helpful in protecting our children."

The Child Protection Act would make it easier for the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend fugitive sex offenders by authorizing them to obtain administrative subpoenas when investigating child pornography and sexual abuse cases. On April 4, 2011, the U.S. Marshals Service's Connecticut Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force arrested James Eason in New Haven, Conn. Eason was non-compliant on both the Connecticut and Pennsylvania State Sex Registries. He also had an active Connecticut State Probation Violation warrant. His original charge was sexual assault of a minor. The lag time between when the U.S. Marshals Service requested an administrative subpoena in Eason's case and when the pertinent information was delivered was approximately one month. If the U.S. Marshals Service had the authority to obtain administrative subpoenas when investigating Eason's case and others -- authority that would be given to them under the Child Protection Act -- this lag time could be reduced to as little as 48 hours.

In addition, the Child Protection Act would make the maximum prison term 20 years for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 12 years and younger -- thereby creating a new, stiffer penalty for the possession of child pornography depicting victims in this age category. Currently, the maximum prison term for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 12 years of age and younger is 10 years. The Child Protection Act of 2012 would also authorize courts to issue protective orders to restrain harassment of minor victims and witnesses upon their own motion. Currently, courts can only issue protective orders upon the government attorney's motion. Witnesses are often intimidated by perpetrators and their associates who do not want them to testify, and the Child Protection Act would allow law enforcement to protect them more quickly. Finally, the Child Protection Act would increase funds available for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which train executive and judicial officials how to deal with cases of child sexual abuse. The Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes Laboratory is one of the founding members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program.


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