IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (WWJ/AP) – Eastern Idaho law enforcement officials say child pornography continues to be a problem nationwide, and Idaho is no different.
The Post Register reports that an Idaho task force has been working to protect children and teenagers on the Internet since 2008, but its efforts are limited.
Task force member Steve Benkula said his group tends to focus on the worst cases to track and stop sexual predators.
“The majority of child porn images are of sexual abuse of young children, from an infant to preteen. It’s horrific stuff,” said Casey Hemmer, a deputy in the Idaho attorney general’s office, who oversees the eight investigators and two computer forensic examiners on the task force. “It’s not just innocent stuff like kids in bathtubs.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Idaho ranks third in the nation in pornography offenses with child involvement. In a 2004 report – the most recent available – Idaho ranked only behind Utah and Michigan for the number of child pornography incidents per 100,000 crimes of all types.
And across the country, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that it has collected 4.3 million reports of child sexual exploitation through its online reporting website between January and April. Idaho-related tips are given to the state’s task force.
“I don’t want people to think there’s some guy behind every bush,” Hemmer said. “But this is out there, and the education of the public and education of the kids in the smart use of the Internet is a move in the right direction.”
Over the past year, two eastern Idaho men have been charged with possession of child pornography, and another was charged with enticing a child.
In March, a White Lake Township man was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for the production and distribution of child pornography.
John Millmine, 35, was arrested after police received information from officials in Phoenix and Ireland revealing that Millmine had shared videos showing the sexual abuse of a toddler. A further search of Millmine’s phone and email accounts discovered thousands of images and videos of child pornography, many of which he created himself.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
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