Tag Archives: Registered Sex Offenders

Authorities Break up International Pedophile Ring That Streamed Live Child Abuse

Global operation sees 29 arrested across 14 countries


Police in the UK, US, and Australia have dismantled an international ring of pedophiles accused of streaming live video of child abuse from the Philippines.

LONDON – Child abuse investigators in the United States, Britain and Australia have dismantled an organized crime group that live-streamed child sexual abuse to order from the Philippines.

Britain’s National Crime Agency said an international investigation broke up the ring, resulting in 29 arrests people in 12 countries who had paid to watch the abuse.

Police describe the use of webcams to stream live child abuse — especially from developing countries — as a “significant and emerging threat.”

“This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with,” said Andy Baker, the deputy director of the agency’s command for child protection. “Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas.”

The investigation began after a routine visit to Timothy Ford, a registered sex offender in Britain. Police found a number of indecent videos on his computer and contacted child abuse investigators, touching off a global investigation beginning in 2012.

UK authorities worked with the Australian Federal Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers as well as the International Justice Mission, a non-governmental group. Together the agencies presented their data to authorities in the Philippines to identify offenders and victims.

The investigation — codenamed Operation Endeavour — identified 733 suspects and has resulted in some convictions, including Ford, who was sentenced in March to 8 ½ years in prison. The agency said Ford paid to watch the live abuse and had planned to move to the Philippines to set up an internet cafe.
Ford and another man, Thomas Owen, had discussed traveling to the Philippines together. Ford, who uses a wheelchair, “suggested that Owen could act as his carer so they could travel to the Philippines together in an attempt to avoid detection,” police said.

Owen, who was found with nearly 4 million indecent images of children, was sentenced in July to seven years in prison.

Authorities in the Philippines issued three search warrants in 2012, and 15 children aged between 6 and 15 were rescued and placed in the custody of social welfare services.

Stephanie McCourt, of the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, which is now part of the NCA, told the BBC that pedophiles should know that the Internet is not a “safe place for them.”

“They must also not be under the mistaken impression that this is a crime which carries no guilt because it happens on the other side of the world,” she said. “It is just as bad, just as harmful as though it was happening to the children right here in the U.K.”

The arrests underscored the well-established problem of cybercrime rings victimizing children in impoverished communities.

Community support to eradicate the problem is crucial because the crime often is concealed in the privacy of homes away from the attention of authorities, said Mayor Michael Rama of Cebu city in the central Philippines, a region where some of the abuses have been reported.

“When you have some poverty, the availability of information and technology and the attraction for easy money, these abuses happen,” Rama told The Associated Press by telephone. “City hall can fight this but if the villages don’t get involved, what’s going to happen?”

Philippine police Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa, who heads an anti-cybercrime unit, said incidents of abuse have been monitored in Cebu, Manila and Angeles city north of the capital.

Impoverished parents allow their children to be sexually abused and watched by paying foreigners via the internet in exchange for $100 to $200, Sosa said.

“We’re continuing with our operations,” Sosa said. “We’ve not eradicated this.”



Pedophiles Driven Out by “Pocket Parks”

Council member Joe Buscaino

Joe Buscaino says the scheme is sending out a ‘loud and clear’ message

By Greg Milam, US Correspondent

Communities in the US who say their neighborhoods have been blighted by high concentrations of registered sex offenders have found an unusual way of driving them away.

The phenomenon of ‘pocket parks’, which are built on patches of waste land, is spreading across the country and forcing sex offenders to move out.

Under Jessica’s Law, which is named in honor of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford who was abducted and murdered by a convicted sex offender, anyone on the register cannot live within 2,000 feet of a park or school.

Because of that, communities that are considered “park poor”, with few schools or play areas, have become havens for high concentrations of registered offenders.

Local people have taken to calling them “perverts’ row”.

Civil rights campaigners claim the parks are driving sex offenders underground and do nothing to make children any safer.

However, communities argue it is a demonstration of people power.

In Harbor Gateway, a working-class neighborhood close to the Port of Los Angeles, a former patch of waste ground close to a busy junction is now home to a new playground.

It often stands unused but since it was built, dozens of registered sex offenders who lived in the area, including more than 30 in one small apartment block, have been forced to move on or face violating their probation or parole.

Council member Joe Buscaino, a former Los Angeles police officer who now represents the Harbor Gateway district, pushed for the playground to be built.

He told Sky News: “Parents would live in fear, close their curtains shut and lock their doors, and we sent a message loud and clear that we shouldn’t have to live this way.”

'Pocket parks' driving out sex offenders

‘Pocket parks’ driving out sex offenders

Pocket parks are being built from Florida to Oklahoma as more communities learn of their impact.

The LA suburb of Wilmington is another that has become home to high concentrations of registered sex offenders, many of whom live in former hotels. A soon-to-be-opened playground will change that.

Mum-of-two Corina Larios, who lives near the site, said: “I used to worry about me or my kids being out at night.

“It is terrible that they feel that they can come and throw all of the undesirables into our city … and we’re upset because there are a lot of good families here.”

Those who campaign for the rights of registered offenders say the parks simply make it harder to monitor them and suggest they are unconstitutional and misguided.

Janice Belluci, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws, said: “The people who are already on the sex offenders’ registers are the least likely to sexually assault their children, with the rate of re-offence less than 2%.

“The people most likely to assault your child are family members, teachers, coaches and members of the clergy.”

Local police applaud community action but say society needs to find an answer to where rehabilitated registered offenders should go.

LAPD sergeant Catherine Plows told Sky News said poorest neighborhoods often suffer the most.

“Does that make it right for them to endure an inordinate number of sex offenders being placed here? No, it doesn’t,” she said.

“There is no magical island they can be placed on. In the end they are human beings and they have the same rights as we do.”

Donor Behind Efforts to Ease Sex-Offender Rules in Missouri

Donor is behind effort to ease sex-offender rules

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, center, outside the Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services center in Farmington, Mo., discusses his veto of a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Legislature that would strike juvenile offenders from public-notification websites and eventually allow their removal from the sex-offender lists compiled by police.

By David A. Lieb

As the politically connected owners of a multi-state tobacco store chain, Jon Rand and Sharie Keil have contributed thousands of dollars to Missouri politicians and even hired their own lobbyists. But the cause they are pushing right now has nothing to do with cigarettes.

The husband and wife are on a behind-the-scenes mission to pass legislation that would remove hundreds of people convicted of sex crimes as juveniles from the state’s online listing of registered sex offenders. Their cause is intensely personal, because their son is among those whose name, photo and address would come down from law enforcement websites.

Their persistent, methodical efforts have set up a political showdown that would have seemed implausible just a few years ago, when the Republican-led Legislature was heaping new restrictions on sex offenders that barred them from coaching youth sports, coming near playgrounds and swimming pools or even passing out candy on Halloween.

“Certainly, I’ve used whatever access or influence that I’ve gotten,” Rand, the president of Discount Smoke Shop Inc., said in a recent interview. He added: “Anybody on the registry is a target for people who like to hurt other people.”

In May, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that would strike juvenile offenders from public-notification websites and eventually allow their removal from the sex-offender lists compiled by police.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill earlier this summer, warning it could endanger the public by hiding the whereabouts of violent sex offenders. But the battle is not over. Missouri lawmakers are to convene Wednesday to consider overriding the veto.

The juvenile sex offender legislation originally passed the House 153-0 and the Senate 28-4. As recently as last month, House Speaker Tim Jones said the bill seemed “ripe for an override.” But as Nixon has traveled the state defending his veto, some lawmakers began having second thoughts about their support for the bill and the potential ramifications of an override.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said he’s not pressing for an override and is no longer sure whether he would vote “yes.”

“Are we going to be letting sex offenders out that may (result in) unintended consequences?” asked Richard, a Republican from Joplin and a former House speaker.

Richard has known Rand for several years, and he’s aware of the family’s personal interest in the bill. In the seven-week gap between the Legislature’s passage of the bill and Nixon’s veto, Rand contributed $5,000 to Richard.

During that time, Rand or his tobacco businesses also gave $6,000 to House Majority Leader John Diehl, a Republican from the community of Town and Country, and $3,000 to Jones, a Republican from Eureka. Any additional contributions made after July 1 don’t have to be publicly reported until Oct. 15.

Jones did not respond to a phone message about the bill.

Diehl, who noted that he’s been getting contributions from Rand’s tobacco companies for years, said he has never spoken to Rand or Keil about the sex offender bill and was unaware they had a son who would benefit from it. Diehl indicated he would probably vote to override the veto.

“I know there’s been some concerns raised with it,” Diehl said. But “I don’t know why I would change my mind at this point.”

Supporters of the measure contend the online registry provides poor guidance to the public, because it includes people who committed violent rapes alongside those who had consensual sex as teenagers with partners who were several years younger.

Rand has long been a major political donor. During the past four years alone, Missouri legislative candidates received more than $100,000 from Rand, Keil and their businesses. During that same time, they contributed about $50,000 to Nixon, a Democrat.

Many of those contributions came as Rand campaigned against a 2012 ballot initiative to raise tobacco taxes.

Rand’s lobbyist, Neal English, estimated that fewer than one-third of the lawmakers who got donations from Rand knew he also was backing changes to the state’s sex offender registry.

At least initially, Keil said, she tried to talk to lawmakers herself about the need to revise sex-offender laws, but she seldom made it past receptionists. So they hired professional lobbyists. Missouri Ethics Commission records show Keil contributed $12,500 to Missouri Citizens for Reform in November 2010. A month later, the committee paid the same amount to the lobbying firm for which English works.

Soon, Keil and Rand were seeing progress. The House passed measures in both 2011 and 2012 that would have exempted some crimes from the registry requirements, but the bills died in the Senate.

The bill that passed this year would remove 858 of the 13,581 people currently listed on the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s sex-offender website, the patrol said.

Keil and Rand’s son pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Illinois for an incident that occurred in June 1998. He was age 17 at the time, and the girl was 12. They say their son, and others like him, deserve a shot at a normal life without the spotlight of a permanent listing on sex-offender websites.

“This bill doesn’t affect punishment at all,” Keil said. “What it affects is the ability for young people to get a second chance and have an opportunity to go to school and get jobs.”

English, a former Senate staffer, said the legislation may be about a dozen House votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override. The prospects in the Senate are also in doubt. But the lobbying campaign continues, and the vote projections change daily.

“It’s kind of a politically sensitive issue,” English acknowledged. “We had to get the Legislature comfortable with the fact that the website’s broken, and the unintended consequences are outweighing the public benefit.”