Georgia Sunday School Teacher (04/19/2015 @ 12:50:10)
NEWNAN, Ga. — A former Newnan Sunday school teacher and church facilities assistant was arraigned Wednesday on federal charges of distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography.
Emmett Winston Smith, a/k/a Everett Smith, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents following a lead from Canadian authorities. Smith, 66, was indicted by a federal grand jury March 24.
“The child pornography discovered during this investigation shows the abuse of numerous innocent children who are re-victimized each time images of their sexual exploitation are traded,” said Acting HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin. “HSI special agents are actively working to disrupt the trade of these illegal images, and will continue to coordinate with our foreign and domestic law enforcement partners to identify and seek prosecution of criminals who possess them.”
“Smith allegedly traded images and videos of child pornography with others, and went into Internet chat rooms looking to make contact with others who shared his same interests,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “This case, which began with a lead from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, illustrates our strong partnership with international law enforcement to combat child pornography and to identify and prosecute those who trade images of the sexual abuse of children.”
According to information presented in court: In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigated a person on allegations that he traded in child pornography. That investigation revealed that the Canadian subject had traded more than 200 emails containing child pornography with a person using an e-mail address that eventually led back to a house in Newnan. Canadian law enforcement passed this information on to HSI special agents who continued the investigation.
HSI identified Smith as the person trading emails with attachments of child pornography. They obtained a federal search warrant for Smith’s house and executed it March 5, where they found child pornography on three computers at the house. Smith was arrested that same day.
At the time of his arrest, Smith was working as a custodian at a large church in downtown Newnan that had a pre-school attached to it. He was also a Sunday school teacher at that same church.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 12,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
Missouri Couple Pleads Guilty (04/19/2015 @ 12:47:31)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A western Missouri couple pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to transporting a person across state lines for prostitution.
These guilty pleas resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
Milton Charles Wilson, also known as “Barbwire,” 59, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kayla Pinkerton, also known as “Foxy,” 19, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, pleaded guilty in separate court appearances to one count each of interstate transportation for prostitution.
By pleading guilty today, Wilson and Pinkerton admitted that they transported an individual across state lines to engage in prostitution in Kansas in December 2013.
Wilson advertised the victim for prostitution on Backpage.com and paid for a hotel room at the American Inn in North Kansas City, Missouri, Wilson transported Pinkerton and the victim to various locations in Missouri and Kansas, including at least two trips to Overland Park, Kansas, for the purpose of prostitution.
Pinkerton also admitted that she took photographs of the victim and later uploaded them to the escort section of Backpage.com.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreements, Wilson will be sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole and Pinkerton is subject to a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
Child Porn Distributed from Prison (04/19/2015 @ 12:24:17)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former California prison inmate, who was sent to prison following his conviction on state sex offenses, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 42 years for using a smuggled cell phone to distribute child pornography while serving time.
This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the California State Prison security office.
Eric Lee Bederson, 37, formerly an inmate at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California, was sentenced to 42 years in federal prison, without parole, on two child pornography convictions.
On Aug. 12, 2014, Bederson pleaded guilty to two federal counts of distributing child pornography. At the time he committed these offenses, Bederson was serving a 16-year state sentence in California for sex-offender convictions, including aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse and abusive sexual conduct of a minor.
Bederson’s California convictions stemmed from his time as a day care center teacher. When he was 21, he had been arrested following an investigation into suspicions that he was molesting multiple children and possessed child pornography. According to court documents, Bederson molested at least 20 children. A civil lawsuit resulted in a judgment of more than $10 million in damages.
Court records show that during his incarceration for those prior sex convictions in California, Bederson used smuggled cell phones to distribute numerous images and videos of child pornography while he was in state prison. As his release date approached, Bederson began communicating with other traders of child pornography via email. He amassed upwards of 40 gigabytes of images and videos in his multiple email accounts, which he used to actively trade, receive and distribute to others – including an HSI undercover special agent based in Kansas City, Missouri. According to court documents, these images and videos constitute violent and disturbing child pornography, including minors as young as 5 years old.
Between Sept. 29 and Oct. 8, 2011, he sent six emails to the HSI undercover special agent, which included a total of 164 images and 10 videos of child pornography. Bederson sent this child pornography with the hope and expectation that the HSI special agent (and others) would reciprocate by sending child pornography to him. Bederson also admitted that his email accounts contained multiple gigabytes of emails and attachments of child pornography.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1000 victims identified or rescued.
Long Beach Mother and Son (04/19/2015 @ 12:13:09)
LOS ANGELES – A Long Beach woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to working with her son to prostitute a local runaway beginning when the girl was only 15, and another young woman beginning when she was 18.
Sharilyn Kae Anderson, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiring with her son to engage in sex trafficking, following a joint probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). In a plea agreement filed in U.S. District court, Anderson admitted she and her son used force, threats of force or coercion against the adult victim. Anderson now faces a potential penalty of life in federal prison.
Anderson’s guilty plea comes nine days after her son, Joshua Jerome Davis, 23, pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking conspiracy, as well as two substantive counts of sex trafficking of a minor and an adult by force, threats of force or coercion. The charge of sex trafficking of a child by force carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years. The sex trafficking of an adult by force, threats of force, or coercion, or any combination of these means, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years.
Anderson was arrested in August 2013 by LBPD vice detectives and HSI special agents. Davis was arrested outside a residence he leased in North Las Vegas. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Following his arrest, Davis was transferred to Los Angeles to face criminal prosecution. At the time of his arrest, investigators located and rescued the minor victim who was with Anderson.
The LBPD initially opened the investigation after the minor victim’s father reported her missing. The ensuing investigation uncovered evidence that Davis, assisted by his mother, had prostituted the victim at several hotels in Southern California and transported her across state lines to Nevada to engage in commercial sex in Las Vegas.
“Human sex trafficking will not be tolerated in our city, especially when our children are victimized,” said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “We have made tremendous progress with our efforts to combat these horrific crimes. We will continue to work collaboratively with our partners to successfully investigate and prosecute those responsible.”
According to court documents, Davis first communicated with the minor victim on Facebook in 2010, when she was 14, leading to an initial meeting in early 2012. Several months later, the minor victim created an account on a website commonly used to promote prostitution and escort services. Anderson helped facilitate the prostitution scheme by booking hotel rooms and transporting both victims to hotels to engage in prostitution when her son was unavailable. Anderson also threatened the adult victim to intimidate her to continue making money for her son by prostituting.
“The coercion of vulnerable minors into prostitution is unconscionable,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “HSI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners to bring those engaged in the sexual exploitation of juveniles to justice.”
Anderson and Davis both pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder. Anderson’s sentencing is scheduled for May 18. Davis will be sentenced May 4.
Vets Target Child Predators (10/22/2013 @ 11:15:22)
Friday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers joined ICE Acting Director John Sandweg, US Special Operations Command Director of the Care Coalition, Kevin McDonnell, and National Association to Protect Children Executive Director, Grier Weeks, in a swearing in ceremony for 17 veterans as part of the inaugural class of Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Recue Corps, or the “HERO Corps.” Many of those sworn in were wounded in the line of duty.
The 17 HEROs are participating in a one-year pilot program that was announced last month to work with ICE HSI offices across the country where they will assist special agents with criminal investigations involving child pornography and online sexual exploitation. The HERO Corps program was developed jointly by ICE HSI, the Department of Defense and the National Association to Protect Children.
The HERO Corps pilot class includes veterans from all branches of service deploying to 11 states.
In fiscal year 2013 to date, more than 2,000 child predators have been arrested by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) special agents on criminal charges related to the online sexual exploitation of children.
Since 2003, HSI has initiated more than 29,000 cases and arrested more than 10,000 individuals for sexual exploitation and related crimes.
“DHS continues to focus on bringing perpetrators of online child exploitation to justice, with a priority on protecting children from these predators,” said Beers. “The goal of this initiative is to give our nation’s military veterans a chance to continue to serve at home for a righteous cause. Through this program, they are trained to fight on a new battlefield to protect the innocence of children at home and around the world.”
“ICE is on the front lines of the fight against online child exploitation and there are none better to join with us than veterans of the US military,” Sandweg said. “We are proud to work with these veterans to stand watch over the most vulnerable among us and to bring these perpetrators to justice.”
After completion of the training, HERO Corps participants will be based at HSI offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Fairfax (Va.), Las Vegas, Memphis (Tenn.), Miami, New Haven (Conn.), New Orleans, Orlando (Fla.), Phoenix, Savannah (Ga.), Seattle (Wash.) and Tampa (Fla.) They will work under the direct supervision of HSI special agents, conducting computer forensic exams, assisting with criminal investigations and helping to identify and rescue child victims.
According to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement, “The HEROs have just completed seven weeks of training in computer forensic analysis and digital evidence collection at HSI’s Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., in order to help identify and rescue child victims of sexual abuse and online sexual exploitation.”
Prior to that, DHS said “they attended four weeks of intensive training at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee where they learned about child exploitation cases and the federal and state criminal laws that they will be helping to enforce.”
The next recruitment for the program is expected to begin early next year. DHS said anyone interested in learning more about the program or applying should send an email to hero(at)ice.dhs.gov. All applicants are interviewed and vetted to ensure a good fit with the HERO Corps.
The HERO program is made possible by a five-year, $10 million initiative funded by the private sector that underwrites training, logistics and equipment.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Child Trafficking Rescue (07/30/2013 @ 00:30:11)
Posted: 07/29/2013 10:57 am EDT | Updated: 07/29/2013 6:26 pm EDT
The FBI has rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims, FBI Assistant Director Ronald Hosko announced Monday.
The youngest of the rescued children was 9 years old, according to Reuters.
One underage victim told officials she became involved with prostitution when she was 11, according to CNN.
"Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves," FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said, according to the network. "They are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them."
Another victim, identified as "Alex," told interviewers she became a prostitute at the age of 16, when she felt she had no other options to feed and clothe herself.
“At first it was terrifying," Alex told interviewers, "and then you just kind of become numb to it. You put on a whole different attitude—like a different person. It wasn’t me. I know that. Nothing about it was me.”
The raids also resulted in the arrests of 150 "pimps" and other individuals, according to an FBI press release.
The rescues were the product of Operation Cross Country, a three-day nationwide initiative to aid victims of underage prostitution.
Operation Cross Country is a part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, a joint program by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created to fight child sex trafficking in the United States.
Since 2003, the Innocence Lost National Initiative has netted the rescue of more than 2,700 children.
Child Trafficking in Atlanta (08/11/2012 @ 01:47:27)
We spent several nights on the streets in Metro Atlanta. We went to communities to the north, to the south and in between. What we witnessed was unbelievable and happening all around us. Children being bought and traded for sex.
"I started off prostituting at age 11," said one young woman who did not want to be identified. She asked us to call her 'Beautiful.'
Beautiful, like so many young women and men who are lured into prostitution, ran away from home.
"I met this guy, and he swore it could be a better life for me!" Beautiful told us.
It was a life of hell.
"I ended up sleeping with one of his friends. I didn't know it was for money in the beginning but after one friend become two friends and two friends became five friends and five friends became," Beautiful trails off, lost in thought.
She was trapped in a life of prostitution and stayed in it for 6 years until she managed to escape.
"This is a problem that is not reported, that the average people don't see, and when they hear about it, they are so disgusted. It's so distasteful they couldn't possibly think it's true. But it's true," said Ernie Allen with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"They can find 500 girls on the streets in Atlanta in any one given evening," Lisa Williams, with Living Water for Girls, told us when we sat down with her to discuss the problem. She found 'Beautiful' and helped get her off the streets.
"Before Miss Lisa Williams, I didn't really receive help," Beautiful said, her eyes welling up as she relayed what had happened to her.
She was traded from pimp to pimp and kept in hotel rooms while men were paraded through.
"You just feel filthy that these men are doing this to you," she said.
When she was 14, 'Beautiful' got into a car with a John and she thought her life would end.
"He held a screwdriver to my neck and basically raped me," she told us.
Every once in a while some girls are rescued. In June the FBI conducted a sweep across the nation including one in Gwinnett County where 3 juveniles, held in hotel rooms, were pulled to safety and 5 Johns were arrested. It was part of an ongoing sweep called the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which so far has resulted in more than 1000 convictions.
Changes in Georgia law now treat the woman forced into prostitution as victims and changes have also been made to beef up the laws to help prosecutors go after human traffickers with tougher penalties.
"For Atlanta SVU we've always treated these children as victims," said Sgt. Ernest Britton with the Atlanta Police Department's Special Victims Unit and Child Exploitation.
"They keep a lot of the underaged off the streets out of view because they know if we know about it, we'll be able to shut them down quickly," he said.
We witnessed it. We were tipped off to a location in North Atlanta about what appeared to be a legitimate business. We watched men pull up as very young girls were paraded out to their cars.
We've since reported what we saw to authorities.
"If they do not produce per se a certain amount of money, they risk being beaten," Sgt. Britton said.
"I've been beaten; I've been pistol whipped by pimps. Bottom line I didn't make quota," said 'Beautiful. As she talked, she began to tell us more and more graphic detail about her horrible experiences.
"I feel like I'm a survivor because I lived to tell my story," she said.
She's now working on getting a college education.
Fortunately, Atlanta has been making great strides in offering assistance. There are now many advocacy groups like Living Water for Girls and others who rescue young prostitutes from the streets and who work to help the FBI track known locations where kids are being sold.
"They are demanding our attention, they are our children and these are our daughters," said Williams who encourages young women and boys to escape and seek help.
Courtney Dow Interview (08/05/2012 @ 05:19:19)
Former stripper helps women escape sex industry (05/02/2012 @ 06:59:42)
It may seem like an unlikely place to find a group of women from a Rockdale County church. But for the team led by Kasey McClure, it is ground zero for their ministry, 4 Sarah.
McClure, a former stripper, began the nonprofit organization to help girls escape what she said is a dangerous and destructive industry.
McClure said it leads to alcohol and drug abuse and a life of crime.
On two Saturday nights in March and April, CBS Atlanta followed the missionaries as they stopped at strip clubs, sex spas and motels.
Armed with gift bags filled with treats, a Bible and information about resources, the McClure and her team speak to the girls who sell sex for a living.
"Our main goal is to get them out of course, but we know that it takes a while. Sometimes they're not ready. A lot of times they're not ready. It might be years before we see results for one girl we work with," McClure said.
McClure said some girls believe stripping or prostituting is the only way to make money to support themselves and sometimes children.
McClure tries to earn the girls' trust by not judging and returning month after month with gifts and advice.
As the team drives down the street, they pull over to hand gift bags to prostitutes walking on the shoulder of the road.
"You're beautiful. You deserve better," McClure said to one girl.
McClure said many of the girls working in the sex industry come from poverty and a history of sexual abuse.
McClure and her team became hopeful when they met "Amber" at a motel.
At the time, Amber, 19, said she was 9-months pregnant and turning tricks up to 15 times a day.
"I knew I had to do something to survive," Amber said. "I don't want to do it. The only thing that gets me through is I find a hole in the wall I look at it. When I'm done I count my money, go pay for my room and go to sleep."
The women pray with Amber, give her gifts for her baby and offer to get her a safe place to live.
Amber said "thank you," but walked away without accepting their offer.
McClure said she's not surprised. It takes time for women like Amber to trust them.
"Hopefully we touched her life today and she's willing to listen to what we have to say. Even if it's not today she'll remember this night and later in the future she'll know God truly loves her," McClure said.
NightLight Atlanta on Pure Passion (01/10/2012 @ 18:03:37)
Voice Today on Pure Passion (02/14/2012 @ 04:43:13)
WellSpring Living on Pure Passion (03/05/2012 @ 05:22:44)
Hope House CBN Interview (02/13/2012 @ 05:08:26)