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ICAC Task Force Combats Proliferation of Child Sex Abuse Images

October 1, 2019

The proliferation of images and videos featuring the sexual abuse and torture of children, often referred to as child pornography, has increased exponentially over the years. Last year, tech companies reported an astounding 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused.

By Rich Harris | New York Times | Source: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Utah is not immune to the rapid expansion of this epidemic. The Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in inundated with combatting child sexual abuse in the State of Utah. Recently, the New York Times featured the ICAC Task Force in an article reporting on the increasing amount of reported child sexual abuse imagery in an increasingly virtual age.  

It was a sunny afternoon in July, and an unmarked police van in Salt Lake City was parked outside a pink stucco house. Garden gnomes and a heart-shaped “Welcome Friends” sign decorated the front yard.

At the back of the van, a man who lived in the house was seated in a cramped interrogation area, while officers cataloged hard drives and sifted through web histories from his computers.

The man had shared sexually explicit videos online, the police said, including one of a 10-year-old boy being “orally sodomized” by a man, and another of a man forcing two young boys to engage in anal intercourse.

“The sad thing is that’s pretty tame compared to what we’ve seen,” said Chief Jessica Farnsworth, an official with the Utah Attorney General’s Office who led a raid of the house. The victims have not been identified or rescued.

The year was barely half over, and Chief Farnsworth’s team had already conducted about 150 such raids across Utah. The specially trained group, one of 61 nationwide, coordinates state and regional responses to internet crimes against children.

The Utah group expects to arrest nearly twice as many people this year as last year for crimes related to child sexual abuse material, but federal funding has not kept pace with the surge. Funding for the 61 task forces from 2010 to 2018 remained relatively flat, federal data shows, while the number of leads referred to them increased by more than 400 percent.

Much of the federal money goes toward training new staff members because the cases take a heavy emotional and psychological toll on investigators, resulting in constant turnover.

The Internet is Overrun with Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?

By Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance

To read the rest of the article go here.  

Investigators in Salt Lake City searching a home for abuse content. Confiscated electronic material in a mobile forensics lab. Jessica Farnsworth, an official with the Utah attorney general’s office who oversaw the operation. | Kholood Eid for The New York Times


The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The Utah Attorney General (UAG) ICAC Task Force was created in 2000 and is now one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country. They focus on crimes related to sexual exploitation of a minor – whether possessing, distributing, or manufacturing child pornography, enticing minors over the internet, or exchanging material deemed harmful to minors. The UAG ICAC Task Force has 32 local, state, and federal police agencies involved in the task force.

You can learn more about ICAC and how to keep your family safe, check out the ICAC Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/justice/internet-crimes-against-children-icac-task-force.

Fighting Child Pornography: Answering Your Questions

May 2, 2019

Child pornography is a serious and growing problem in our state, and the Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is fighting it every day. ABC4 reporter Brittany Johnson got a first-hand look at this problem recently, by riding along with the ICAC Task Force. She went with our officers to the frontline of this battle to capture and share the tragic reality of child pornography – and how ICAC fights against it – on ABC4’s 10 PM newscasts, April 25 and 26, 2019.

Based on the considerable feedback, the Utah Attorney General’s office is posting answers to the most frequently asked questions about the child pornography problem in our state. These questions are pouring into both the AG’s office and to ABC4 via email, social media, and telephone this week. There are thousands of concerned parents and Utah citizens who are troubled by child pornography and who want to protect their children and help fight against the problem. ICAC Commander Jessica Farnsworth answers the questions below.

Are there warning signs?  How can we can recognize those who view and/or trade, sell and share child pornography?

What are the various behaviors that act as ‘gateways’, which could lead a person to child pornography?

Are there any signals or warning signs that indicate a child is being sexually abused?

What can we do to protect our kids?

What do parents need to know about posting photos of their children on social media?

What does the average citizen need to know about child pornography?

What is the best way to get involved in stopping child pornography?

How do we stop the demand for child pornography?

Wheels of Justice Rides to Make a Difference

March 18, 2019

In an article published in the Utah Bar Journal, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill, and Attorney Gregory N. Hoole joined together to bring awareness of child abuse and Wheels of Justice, a local cycling club dedicated to ending all forms of child abuse.

Wheels of Justice, a nonprofit corporation, raises money to support four organizations: Prevent Child Abuse Utah (PCAU), Friends of the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center (Friends of the CJC), Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) and the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (UDVC).

Additionally, Wheels of Justice sponsors a bicycle ride every September that ascends all five of Salt Lake City’s riding canyons in one day. This daunting course shows children who have been abused that they, too, can overcome any challenge.

For more information and to find out how you can join Wheels of Justic, visit their website at www.teamwheelsofjustice.org.

Reporting Clergy Abuse

The Utah Attorney General’s Office works tirelessly to combat clergy abuse, and child abuse of any kind, through its Child Protection Division, the statewide network of Children’s Justice Centers, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, robust investigations, prosecution and victim advocacy. We do this is partnership with Child Protective Services, local law enforcement, and other agencies.

In the interest of protecting the innocent and bringing criminals to justice, we do not discuss ongoing investigations.

If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a clergy member, or anyone else, please report this to the 24/7 Child Abuse Hotline at 855-323-3237 or call your local sheriff or police department. You may also contact our office during business hours at 801-281-1200.

Partners in Protecting Children: Utah CJCs & the LDS Church

Seeking justice on behalf of physically or sexually abused children and helping those children heal is the mission of the Utah Children’s Justice Centers Program. Protecting children is also a core mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Due to the intersection of vision, the partnership between the two organizations is a natural fit and a big reason why the LDS Church continues to support the CJC Program.

The CJC Program received $50,000 from the LDS Church this year, making it the fourth consecutive year the Church has given to the organization. Each year, the CJCs determine where the gift can have the greatest impact. The contribution this year will go to outlying and rural sites for the following:

  • To update interview recording equipment, a critical component of the CJC process;
  • Support renovations in several centers; and 
  • Help establish a victim advocate at the San Juan facility.

For more coverage on the LDS Church grant to Utah CJCs check out the links, below.

Deseret News: LDS women leaders present donation to prevent child abuse in Utah, Bolivia

KSL.com: LDS Church donates $75K to combat child abuse in Utah and Bolivia

Fox 13: LDS Church makes donation to Children’s Justice Center to aid abuse victims

KUER: Top Female Mormon Leaders Say Child Abuse Is Major Priority

KUTV: LDS Church donates to child abuse prevention charities at home and abroad

Mormon Newsroom: Church Donates to Child Abuse Prevention Organizations

LDS Living: LDS Female Church Leaders Donate $75,000 to Fight Child Abuse

The Utah Children’s Justice Program oversees 23 independently-run CJC sites that serve 28 counties throughout the state. Sites are designed with the comfort of the child in mind to provide a safe, friendly atmosphere for forensic interviews, medical examinations, and follow-up support services. For more information please contact the CJC closest to you

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