An absolutely horrific case of child exploitation was reported in the news this week. Two men were arrested in Huntsville, Alabama for the months-long sexual torture and production of images of it of a 9 year old boy. 9. Years. Old. I can’t count the number of defense attorneys who argued to a judge when I was a federal prosecutor that “merely” participating in the trade of images of child sexual abuse didn’t mean the defendant actually abused a child. This argument was then and is now completely specious. This case is just one of many horrible examples of the link between child sexual abuse and the trafficking in the images of it. These sick defendants apparently tortured this little boy for their own sexual gratification and then shared the images they took of the abuse with others of like minded depravity. Every single person who obtains images of children being sexually abused is guilty of contributing to that sexual abuse. This case is reportedly filled with such egregious images of abuse the investigators have been unable to review some images. This poor little boy was abuse by his own father and seems to have a mother who is not involved in his life. What will happen to him now?
In the title of this post, I asked why we can’t seem to find these children sooner. If we had the proper resources, could law enforcement have rescued this little boy sooner? There are untold numbers of children whose images of abuse are circulating on the Internet. Law enforcement is handicapped by having scandalously scarce resources, both in technology and people, to truly make a dent in this growing scourge of the trafficking in the sick images of the abuse of children. Many have been sounding the alarm on this for years. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has reviewed more than 90 million images and videos of child sexual abuse and just over 5,000 children in those images have been identified. This proves we are not doing enough to find those children. I note that the article, which I’ve linked to at the bottom of this post, on this case stated that the FBI notified local authorities in Huntsville that the 9 year old boy was being abused in their district. I applaud both the FBI and the Huntsville authorities for their action in rescuing this child. What about the other children we know are being abused and haven’t been found? When will these children become a priority for government resources? I guarantee that if the decision makers had to look into the eyes of these children while they were being raped, while their eyes begged for help, they would act. I have, unfortunately, seen many of their faces in my prosecutions of child exploitation cases. They haunt me still. http://bit.ly/18ASXVW