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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.

Behind the Badge: How Officers Process the Horrors of Child Exploitation Cases

June 5, 2019

Don Hudson with ABC4 News met with ICAC Commander Jessica Farnsworth to discuss the mental toll it takes to be an officer of the ICAC Task Force. In order for ICAC officers to find and arrest child predators, they have to view the evidence, which contains horrific footage of children being sexually abused and tortured.

Watching the footage of crimes that they can’t stop, officers go through feelings of helplessness and horror, which can start taking a toll on their health. That is why ICAC has a wellness program and mandatory sessions with a clinical therapist.

In the first three months of 2019, ICAC made 104 arrests. Last month, they announced the arrest of 13 child predators in Utah County. While the investigations can be frustrating and painful, ICAC is ready to take down anyone who hurts children.

Read the rest of Hudson’s interview here.


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?

ICYMI: Combating Child Pornography in Utah

April 29, 2019

Last Thursday and Friday, April 25-26, ABC4‘s Brittany Johnson highlighted the reality of the growing child pornography problem in Utah in a two-part special segment. Thursday, ABC4 rode along with Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) special agents to see the frontline action and experience the battle first hand. Friday, ABC4 spoke with Special Agent Sete Aulai and revealed who these perpetrators are and what you can do to help fight this epidemic.

TRIGGER WARNING: The following videos contain graphic and disturbing details regarding the sexual assault of children.

Utah’s Child Pornography Problem: Part 1 (Courtesy of ABC4 Utah)


Utah’s Child Pornography Problem: Part 2 (Courtesy of ABC4 Utah)

ABC4 Article: Utah’s Child Pornography Problem

Watch on ABC4: Utah’s Child Pornography Problem

April 25, 2019

Utah has one of the highest child pornography rates in the nation. Child pornography represents one of the cruelest and most horrific forms of sexual abuse against children. It preserves the very worst moments of a child’s life for the gratification of their abusers. The videos and images of child sexual abuse are traded, shared, and viewed as both currency and commodity. Some perpetrators use it as a tool to normalize their behavior and groom their victims. 

It is important to educate the public on what child pornography is, the way it is disseminated and traded, and how to protect your children from becoming victims of this kind of sexual exploitation.  

Taken from Child Pornography; The Harsh Reality & Legal Definition
presented & written by the ICAC Task Force earlier this year

Tune into ABC4 Thursday, April 25th and Friday, April 26th at 10 p.m. to learn more about this tragic epidemic and how you can protect your children.

Child Pornography: The Harsh Reality & Legal Definition

This is the first in a series of articles written by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to bring awareness to the reality of crimes that the ICAC Task Force combats daily in order to protect children and to ultimately bring about an end to these atrocities.

WARNING TO READERS:  THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC WRITTEN DESCRIPTIONS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. IT WILL BE DISTURBING TO SOME READERS.

Child pornography represents one of the cruelest and most horrific forms of sexual abuse against children. It preserves the very worst moments of a child’s life for the gratification and sexual pleasure of their abusers. The videos and images of child sexual abuse are traded, shared, and viewed as both currency and commodity. Some perpetrators use it as a tool to normalize their behavior and groom their victims. 

It is important to educate the public on what child pornography is, the way it is disseminated and traded, and how to protect your children from becoming victims of this kind of sexual exploitation.  

Legal Definition

Child pornography is, by definition, a depiction of a minor engaged or involved in sexually explicit conduct. The statutory definition for “Sexually Explicit Conduct” is found in Utah law under Utah Code Annotated 76-5b-103 with its own very specific definition:

“Sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated:

  • (a)        sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
  • (b)        masturbation;
  • (c)        bestiality;
  • (d)       sadistic or masochistic activities;
  • (e)        lascivious exhibition of the genitals, pubic region, buttocks, or female breast of any person;
  • (f)        the visual depiction of nudity or partial nudity for the purpose of causing sexual arousal of any person;
  • (g)        the fondling or touching of the genitals, pubic region, buttocks, or female breast; or
  • (h)        the explicit representation of the defecation or urination functions.             

It is important to address the actual legal definition of child pornography because there is a common misconception that any depiction of nudity involving a minor could potentially qualify as child pornography. There is a misplaced fear that a parent’s picture of their child in a bathtub could be criminal, or that a picture of a young child nude at a beach could be illegal. This could not be further from the truth. Not only would these types of images not qualify legally as child pornography, they are so far below the true depictions of child pornography that they do not warrant the attention of prosecutors and investigators.

True child pornography, in stark contrast to family photos of bath time and beach vacations, is now more than ever, immeasurably darker and more disturbing than is widely understood. The FBI reports there are now more investigations of child exploitation with a connection to the Internet than ever before. The surge in child pornography on the Internet has led to increased victimization and trafficking to meet the demand for new pictures and live video of sexual violence against increasingly younger children. The highest “value” images traded on-line are those which depict the youngest victims and the most bizarre sex acts. It is common in the prosecution of child pornography cases to see pre-pubescent children as young as infants and toddlers being raped, subjected to violent sexual torture and abuse, and forced to engage in acts of bestiality. Digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s images. Cases routinely involve terabytes of child pornography videos and images, and ever more sophisticated technology and tactics designed to conceal these heinous acts.

As this series continues we will discuss the damage child pornography and continued distribution of images of the sexual abuse inflicts on its victims. How the harm to victims is compounded by the knowledge that offenders are viewing, trading and using the pornographic images of the child victim for sexual gratification, often years later. Finally, it will review tools and information for parents to help them prevent their children from becoming victims or exposure to this type of material. 

Report child pornography to law enforcement by contacting the ICAC Tip Line at 801.281.1211 or your local law enforcement agency.

In the News

November 28, 2018

Over the last few weeks, our investigators and prosecutors tracked down an alleged human trafficker, caught a guy with child porn, brought down a large Ponzi scheme, and arrested several men in Southern Utah accused of trying to meet up with minors.

These are just a few highlights of an office team working on thousands of cases in an effort to protect and keep all Utahns safe.

You can catch up on all you may have missed below. Thanks for paying attention.

Human Trafficking

Deseret News: Charges: Man forced women into prostitution, human trafficking
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah attorney general’s office arrests man for human trafficking after victims come forward
KSL: Man charged in human trafficking case
Fox13: Utah Attorney General’s Office arrest a man for human trafficking of two women
KUTV: Utah arrests man accused of prostituting, raping, kidnapping and beating two women

Child Pornography

KSL: Man accused of having 100 gigabytes of child porn facing federal charges
Standard-Examiner: Kaysville man accused of downloading, possessing 100 GB of child pornography

Ponzi Scheme

KJZZ: Utah man, company charged with taking $170M from hundreds of people in Ponzi scheme
Fox13: Authorities say Ponzi scheme at Rust Rare Coin in Utah took hundreds of victims for $170 million

Crimes Against Children

St. George News: Police arrest 7 men accused of attempting to meet boys, girls for sex
The Spectrum: 7 men accused of trying to meet with minors for sex in Washington County
KUTV: 6 men arrested for attempting to meet minors for sex in Washington County
abc4: 7 men arrested accused of trying to meet minors for sex

Photo by Roman Kraft

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