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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.

North Logan man charged with raping a child after luring her to his apartment using Snapchat

July 12, 2019

Yesterday, a North Logan man was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl after he lured her into his apartment by pretending to be one of her friends on Snapchat.

While the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force isn’t directly associated with this specific case, Regional Supervisor Alan Connor emphasized that these incidents happen far too often. Additionally, he urges parents to be aware of their children’s interactions on the internet and for children and teens to practice internet safety.

“When we’re talking about kids, they’re easily manipulated. They want to be liked, they want to be popular. The confirmation of those feelings and those emotions are what predators jump on,” Connor said. “As the parents, we need to be informed. We need to go out there and look and see what our kids are doing. If we don’t understand it we have to educate ourselves.”

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


Media coverage:

ABC4: North Logan man uses Snapchat to lure teen to apartment and rape her, documents state

Deseret News: Northern Utah man uses Snapchat to lure teen to his apartment, rape her, charges state

Fox13: Cache County man deceived teen girl on Snapchat before raping her, police say

Salt Lake Tribune: Logan man charged with luring a 13-year-old to his apartment and raping her

KUTV: Police: North Logan man raped minor, lured her by posing as girl on Snapchat

Sextortion: A Serious & Devastating Crime

July 2, 2019

Gabe Ryan Gilbert

A warrant was issued yesterday for the arrest of 19-year-old Gabe Ryan Gilbert for sextortion and/or coercion of another person. The charges are comprised of five counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child, a first-degree felony, and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, after he allegedly contacted and threated juvenile girls on social media for nude photos.

The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force started the investigation in August after receiving a report from Snapchat that a user had been sexual extorting minors online.

“When I examined the results of the search warrant from Snapchat it was obvious the user had been engaging in very similar behavior with other underage girls. I identified well over fifty (50) potential victims of this type of sexual extortion,” said an investigator in the charging documents.

Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private, sensitive material if you don’t provide sexual images, favors, or money. Generally, the perpetrator may threaten you or your loved ones unless you comply with their demands. Sextortion has serious and devastating effects on young victims and unfortunately isn’t uncommon with our technological world and various social media platforms where predators and perpetrators lurk.  

Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim to sextortion and what to do if you become one:

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are. These images could easily be shared or stolen, even by people you may trust.
  • Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them.
  • Keep our internet safety tips in mind.
  • If you receive sextortion threats, contact law enforcement or tell an adult. You are not alone, and you are not to blame.

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.

ICAC Tip Line: 801.281.1211

ICAC Email: utahicac@agutah.gov


Media Coverage:

Fox 13: Police: Utah man charged with sexual extortion threatened to expose teen girls, send ‘rapists’ to their homes

KUTV: Utah teen accused of sexual extortion of more than 50 girls, court documents state

KSL: Utahn accused in ‘sextortion’ of over 50 teens, charges say

Deseret News: Utahn accused in ‘sextortion’ of over 50 teens, charges say

Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Traveling to Engage in Sexual Acts with a Minor

June 10, 2019

On Friday, James Allen Wynhoff was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison on one felony count of traveling to engage in sexual acts with a minor as well as felony and misdemeanor drug offenses. Wynhoff was arrested last November during an undercover operation by the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Wynhoff is originally from Las Vegas but was arrested in Washington County when he arrived at the location where he was allegedly going to meet with a minor. His arresting charges included possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, owning drug paraphernalia, and enticing a minor.

Initially, Wynhoff was charged in state court with a second-degree felony; however, those charges were dismissed when he pled guilty in federal court with one count of traveling to engage in sexual acts with a minor after he crossed state lines.

The court additionally ordered Wynhoff to undergo a sex offender treatment, and a “Residential Drug Abuse Program,” which is an intensive nine-month, 500-hour substance abuse rehabilitation program. He will be imprisoned in either Englewood, Colorado or Segoville, Texas in order to facilitate the required treatments. Wynhoff will be registered as a sex offender.


News coverage of the 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

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.

Utah AG Announces 13 Arrests of ICAC Operation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019

ICAC TASK FORCE WRAPS OPERATION WITH THIRTEEN ARRESTS
Over 45 Charges Issued to Offenders Arrested in Utah County

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced the arrest of thirteen individuals in Utah County following a recent operation targeting child sexual predators. Charges include Enticing a Minor, Attempted Rape of a Child, Attempted Sodomy of a Child, Attempted Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, Attempted Forcible Sexual Abuse, Criminal Solicitation, and more, for a total of 48 charges.

“The bad news is the information we are sharing today is grim in nature and shows that there are adults in our communities who appear to be actively and aggressively trying to have sexual contact with Utah children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “My office works with children who are actual victims of sexual abuse and rape; we see these children and the trauma they suffer. That’s why we perform these operations, and why we’re so committed to preventing harm where we can and prosecuting every possible crime against children that we can. Our goal is to prevent this kind of trauma from happening to even one more child.”

The investigation, led by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, indicated the suspects primarily targeted boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 13 years old. These suspects, if convicted, would be considered among the most dangerous and aggressive child predators because their activity indicates a plan to engage in sexual contact with a minor.

Based on the number of cases law enforcement agencies have handled across the state, evidence shows that this problem has become more pervasive in the last year.

Attorney General Reyes addressed that troubling trend today during a press conference alongside ICAC officers from the Provo Police Department, Orem Police Department, Utah County Sheriff’s office, Uintah County Sheriff’s office, Dixie State University Police, Davis County Attorney’s office, and Adult Probation and Parole who all participated in the operation. 

Keeping Children Safe

The Utah Attorney General’s ICAC Education Specialist has the following tips:

As community members, our role is to help protect children. If you know of anyone who is contacting children, please call your local law enforcement or the ICAC Tip Line at 801-281-1211.

# # #

NOTES:

  1. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
  2. 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.
  3. You can find a list of the alleged offenders and charges here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Criminal-Charges-from-Utah-County-Attorneys-Office-.pdf.
  4. You can find the booking photos here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/icac-operation-booking-photos/.

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.

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