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National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Reaches Unfortunate Milestone

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Reaches Unfortunate Milestone

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Alex Cabrero ReportingA national law enforcement Web site reached a big milestone recently, but it's a milestone Utah investigators wish was never necessary.

Like so many people who have desk jobs, there are times Jessica Eldredge sometimes has to stop and wonder how she can deal with it all. "You think you've seen everything, and then you're just like, ‘wow.'"

Her job is nothing like anyone else's. That's because what she deals with on her computer in Room 226 of the Utah Attorney General's Office would get you in big trouble.

She says, "I am kind of shocked. I think we always think that there's not a lot out there, and as we dig through it, more and more we're finding."

Eldredge is an investigator with the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Almost every day, she deals with the worst imaginable things done to children, infants and sometimes newborns -- the kinds of things impossible to explain.

"You don't. And as a matter of fact, even when I talk to the defendants, the suspects, they can't really explain it. It's an addiction," she says.

Recently, the Web site for the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children received its half-millionth report, those reports done by people who either know or think someone did something to children and it isn't right.

Eldredge explains, "It immediately is sent to the proper law enforcement jurisdiction."

Even then, sometimes, it's already too late. "Eighty-five percent of people who are looking at child pornography have probably victimized a child already," she says.

But that means 15 percent haven't, which is why Eldredge works so hard to catch them.

She says, "It is rewarding because we're getting them off the streets, and we're preventing other children from getting abused."

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