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ICAC Task Force Combats Increasing Child Sex Crimes

November 17, 2020

During 2020, online child sex crimes in Utah have increased more than 50%. From March through June 2020, ICAC received 749 cybertips, while in 2019 during the same time, ICAC received 490.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is working hard to combat these crimes.

“The number of cases that were referred to us from the first of March through the end of June are 50% more than what we saw last year at the same time. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an increase this substantial,” ICAC Special Agent Alan Conner told KSL Investigates in an interview.

Last night, KSL Investigates aired an in-depth look at the work the ICAC Task Force is doing and the crimes they are fighting. Watch the coverage here.

LawCourt

ICAC Task Force Files Charges Against Man from Sandy, Utah for Possessing 8,000 Files of Child Pornography

November 12, 2020

Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force filed charges against a man from Sandy, Utah for possessing approximately 8,000 files of child pornography.

Austin Kyle Stewart, 32, was charged with one count of Sodomy on a Child, a first-degree felony, and 11 counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, a second-degree felony.

In October 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a Cybertip from Google indicating a user uploaded files of suspected child pornography to their Google Accounts. The accounts were traced back to Stewart in Sandy, Utah.

ICAC Agents executed a search warrant on Stewart’s residence, where they found approximately 8,000 files of child pornography.

Five of the photos were flagged as potentially newly created and is alleged to have taken them himself.

ICAC has requested Stewart be held without bail.

Former SLC Airport Director Arrested for Possessing Over 50,000 Files of Child Pornography

May 21, 2020

Last week, the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested and charged the former director of operations for the Salt Lake City International Airport for possessing over 50,000 images of child pornography.

Randall Darwood Berg, 69, was charged in the 3rd District Court with 25 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, all second-degree felonies.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received eight separate Cybertip reports from Google of a user uploading and storing suspected files of child pornography to their account. An agent with the ICAC Task Force inspected the reported files and confirmed they contained child pornography. The ICAC Task Force was able to trace the files back to Berg who lived in Draper, Utah. A search warrant revealed approximately 30,000 images of child pornography.

After executing a residential search warrant, ICAC agents discovered an additional 20,000 files of child pornography on his computer.

In an interview with ICAC agents, Berg admitted to intentionally searching for child pornography since 2001 or 2002.

The Court has ordered that bail be set at $500,000.

Utah ICAC Task Force Arrests Vernal Man Who Possessed Over 23,000 Files of Child Porn and Child Anime Porn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2020

UTAH ICAC TASK FORCE ARRESTS VERNAL MAN WHO POSSESSED OVER 23,000 FILES OF CHILD PORN AND CHILD ANIME PORN

SALT LAKE CITY, UT– The Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested a man in Vernal, Utah after an investigation revealed more than 23,000 files containing child porn and child anime porn.
 
31-year-old Andrew Derek Walden is being charged with 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Walden is suspected of downloading and distributing child pornography and sharing files containing child pornography via the Freenet peer-to-peer network. In addition to thousands of child porn files, Walden’s apartment contained numerous posters on the walls and magazines depicting sexually explicit anime images featuring young children.
 
While technically legal, the anime material concerns the ICAC investigators.
 
“The content that’s specifically concerning to us is the child pornography anime,” said Alan White, ICAC Commander. “If a person is into child pornographic anime, it’s not a huge step to get into child pornography itself, or for that matter to abuse a child.”
 
Walden is being held without bail in Uintah County as he is considered to be a substantial danger to the community and is likely to flee if released.

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Safer Internet Day: Together For a Better Internet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 11, 2020

SAFER INTERNET DAY: TOGETHER FOR A BETTER INTERNET

“Today, we encourage you to take the time to discuss internet safety with your children.” -Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes
 

SALT LAKE CITY —  Safer Internet Day is today, February 11th and the Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force urges Utahns to get educated on internet safety to help prevent children falling victim to internet crimes. The best way to prevent these crimes is by educating yourself, your children, co-workers, teachers, etc. 

Safer Internet Day is celebrated across the globe each February. This year’s theme is, “Together for a better internet”. The Utah ICAC diligently works to make the digital world safe from predators, cyberbullies, and other online dangers. We urge you to be kind and respectful to your peers online and to observe internet safety as you access the internet through your phone, apps, gaming platforms, and computers. No matter what you use, it’s important to practice digital safety.

We encourage you to read and utilize these resources on this and every day.

Below are some helpful resources to help you learn more about dangers your child may encounter online, and ways you can help prevent them:

For internet safety tips, go here. 

More on Cyberbullying here.

Read the Safer Internet Day featured article, Sextortion: Stop It Before It Starts, written by Detective Christie Hirota from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office ICAC Task Force.

General Internet Safety

NetSmartz for Teens

Parental Guide to Apps

Safer Internet Day 2019 Livestream

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.

Hurricane Man Sentenced to Jail After Attempting to Meet with Minor for Sex

July 25, 2019

A man from Hurricane, Utah was sentenced to jail on one third-degree felony count of enticing a minor by internet or text after he arranged to meet with what he believed to be a 13-year-old boy for sex.

Ross Robert Woolsey, a 50-year-old man, was first arrested along with six other men during a four-day sting operation conducted by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and Washington County Attorney’s Office.

Woolsey will serve 180 days at the Purgatory Correction Facility. Additionally, he will pay a $1,500 fine and will be placed on 36 months of probation with Adult Probation and Parole where he will be subject to all class A sex-offender requirements and restrictions. Woolsey will participate in substance abuse evaluation and treatment, sex offender treatment, DNA testing, random searches of computers, phones, or other internet-able devices, and will be prohibited from visiting any areas that children congregate – such as schools, parks, and community pools. Additionally, he is prohibited from having contact with any children under the age of 18 without prior approval from Adult Probation and Parole.


News coverage of the 2018 November ICAC Operation:

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

Human Trafficking in Utah

July 3, 2019

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, and it’s happening right here in Utah. In 2018, the Utah Attorney General’s Office conducted 49 human trafficking investigations, prosecuted 8 cases, and served 44 victims.

Rather than using ropes and chains to confine and control their victims, traffickers use “invisible ropes” involving complex manipulative tactics to control their victims, which can make it difficult to recognize human trafficking.

For information on how you can recognize and report human trafficking visit: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/human-trafficking-awareness-day-2019/

To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  • Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211

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.

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

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