Okla.'s push to fight online predators

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Updated: 2/15/2013 9:03 am Published: 2/14/2013 8:31 pm

As soon as one is caught, investigators say there’s another to take his place.

In a sweep this week, Oklahoma's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) arrested four men in northeast Oklahoma.

These are suspected internet predators who are accused of trading child porn from their computers and smartphones.

James Johnson, 54, Adoliphius Webster, 31 are both from Owasso. Also arrested in the sweep was Michael Gomez, 41 of Coweta and Stephen Hacker, 65 of Okmulgee.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations lead agent for the ICAC Task Force, Steve Tanner, says the unit was created in 2007 and is the only one in Oklahoma

FOX23 kept records of alerts sent by OSBI since 2011 and found suspected online child predators who were living in 15 counties in Oklahoma, including, Oklahoma, Garvin, Lincoln, Coal, Tulsa, Logan, Kiowa, Pottawatomie, Custer, McLain, Beckham, Creek, Hughes, Rogers and Wagoner Counties.

Anti-child abuse advocates says there are thousands of more predators in Oklahoma, but there are not enough agents to go after all of them.

Proposed Senate Bill 879 would cost $10 to help catch a child pornographer.

Senator Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, is proposing an additional $10 fee on fines for anyone convicted of misdemeanor or felony crime.

Jason Weis with the Demand Project says this proposal needs to be passed.

"Truly in my heart this will make it safer for Oklahoma children,” said Weis.

If the bill passes it could generate $4 million to $5 million a year to help investigate child sex crimes, including ICAC to hunt online predators.

"Getting these guys off the street is critical in keeping children safe,” said Weis.

Agent Tanner told FOX23 News there are at least 2,000 IP addresses in Oklahoma that link to computers that are sharing child porn.

The Task Force also receives 1,000 cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and at least 20 tips from police and citizens each year.

"There is no way to truly put an identity on these guys," says Weis.

Those arrested by ICAC Task Force have been deacons, former police officers and school administrators.

In the alerts FOX23 News received, the online predators arrested ranged from ages 21 to 75 and the average age was 45.

Suspected child pornographer James Johnson lived in a wealthy neighborhood in Owasso.

"You would never think your neighbor would be involved in something like that," said a neighbor.

In another neighborhood in Owasso, Webster lived where there were several children seen riding their bicycles and hanging out on the sidewalks.

"We have tons of kids," said a neighbor.

Weis reports 40% of online predators raped a child.

Senate Bill 879 would add more manpower and equipment that could wipe out anyone who dares to sexually exploit a child.

"I want them to live in fear if they are exploiting children, said Weis. "Their time has come to a close."

The proposal to tack on fees is similar to Alicia’s Law in Virginia. Weis reports in the first year agents in that state were able to make an additional 332 arrests.

Oklahoma’s ICAC Task Force is funded partially by the Department of Justice and the State provides partial funding that includes $300,000. Currently there are three agents.

There are 64 law enforcement agencies who have signed up for their assistance but only five agencies who can cross jurisdiction and make arrests.

Senate Bill 879 is currently in the Public Safety committee.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Jason Weis - 2/15/2013 7:45 AM
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In a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of people arrested for child pornography, 40% had also raped children in addition to having child pornography. 19% had images of infants and toddlers under the age of 3 being raped.
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