Ad campaign takes aim at online child predators

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Federal prosecutors announced a new ad campaign against child exploitation on the same day a Utah man was sentenced to two decades in federal prison on child porn charges.

This afternoon, a federal judge sentenced Jonathon Cordier to 20 years in prison for using a Webcam to broadcast himself and a 3-year-old girl in a sex act.

"I would like for the cases to not be shocking," said U.S. Attorney for Utah, Brett Tolman, "and yet they remain troubling. They cause concern to those working in this field and who have for many years."

"We're aware of younger and younger victims," he said. He says Cordier's sentencing underscores that point. Cordier was arrested after a woman who was chatting with him online witnessed explicit acts involving the victim.

‘It is a particularly ugly crime, here a victim 3 years of age," Tolman said.

Tolman and others today unveiled the new ad campaign that warns parents to know exactly where their children are on the Web, and warns would-be perpetrators of increased penalties.

The public service announcements already are running on TV screens in other states. In a few weeks, they'll air in Utah. Tolman says with so many children and trusting citizens in this state, it's time to step up the fight.

"On the Internet and unsupervised is a recipe for disaster," he said.

The 30-second spots are part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative.

Also attending today's news conference was Elizabeth Smart's father, Ed Smart, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who praised new federal legislation aimed at curbing child exploitation on the Internet.

They say parents must educate their kids about child pornography and know when they're online and who they're talking to.

Smart says more than half of all the child pornography produced in the world comes from the United States. He says it's a different age to be a parent, and that parents need to do more than talk with their children about the potential dangers on the Internet.

He also said they need to be very involved in teaching them who may be on the other side of the screen.

"These kids have no idea what's happening to them. We have to educate them so they can learn," Smart said.

One ad leads parents to the Web site, where there's research on child sex abuse and resources to fight it. The campaign also features print ads, webisodes, and a TV spot targeting the offenders.

One says, "Download sexual images of children or entice a minor online and you have committed a serious federal crime."

Hatch says law enforcement is overwhelmed in this fight. Meanwhile, Tolman says research shows child pornography is steadily increasing.


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Marc Giauque and Gene Kennedy


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