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In recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen would like to call attention to the continuing fight against the online sexual exploitation of children and the work of Wisconsin’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. In 2012, the ICAC Task Force was responsible for arresting 131 suspected child predators -- the highest number of arrests during a calendar year ever recorded for the Task Force, which now counts nearly 200 local law enforcement agencies as affiliates.
Additionally, in the same year, more than 36,000 individuals attended more than 900 ICAC presentations and community outreach programs as part of efforts to further the agency’s mission to protect children. Since its inception as one of the first in a coordinated national effort that started in 1998, Wisconsin’s ICAC Task Force has arrested more than 1,000 child predators and executed more than 1,800 search warrants.
Less than a month ago, ICAC agents at the Department of Justice (DOJ) – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) partnered with the Door and Brown County Sheriff’s Offices, and other agencies, for Operation Black Veil. The large-scale, three-day operation was a coordinated, proactive online investigation relating to the exploitation of children through the use of online personal advertisements, specifically targeting online predators who solicit children for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct. More than 15 suspects were arrested, with many facing charges of Trafficking of a Child, Use of a Computer to Facilitate a Child Sex Crime and/or Child Enticement.
These types of proactive, large-scale operations, in partnership with local law enforcement, will continue and should serve as a deterrent to those who may look to victimize children. Additionally, the DOJ’s 2013-2015 biennial budget request and the Governor’s recommendation call for additional ICAC positions to fight child sex trafficking.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) interacts regularly with ICAC task forces, including ours in Wisconsin, to provide assistance during investigations where the suspect has solicited young victims from throughout the U.S. and other countries. Anyone having information regarding online sexual exploitation of children should report this information to NCMEC, via a CyberTip (www.cybertipline.com), and to local law enforcement.
The ICAC Task Force Program is an important partnership that focuses its efforts to protect children online and hold offenders accountable. The ICAC Task Force investigators are committed to working tirelessly to strengthen police relationships and promoting awareness and participation to produce positive results that help make the Internet a safer place for America’s children. For tips to keep your kids safe using social media and visiting elsewhere online, explore the Wisconsin DOJ’s ICAC section at www.doj.state.wi.us.