BY MAUREEN T. ARO – The exploitation of our nation’s children is a major and rapidly escalating problem. Just recently, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.
Some forms of child exploitation outlined in the strategy included on-line sexual solicitation and enticement, pornography and other threats. Earlier this year, the DOJ Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced $1.2 million in grants awarded to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforces around the nation.
According to Assistant Attorney General, OJP, Laurie Robinson, “These grants will provide the resources necessary to reach the children and hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Voom Technologies, Inc. (www.voomtech.com), CEO, David Biessener commented,” Voom is steadfastly dedicated to the mission of protecting children, and we offer exclusive support to ICAC Taskforce members in an effort to help stem the tide of the manipulation of the internet that targets the innocence of our children. We strive to meet the growing cybercrime technology needs of those tireless investigators on whom the burden of bringing these perpetrators to justice falls, and Voom’s Shadow 2 does just that.”
After speaking with ICAC representatives, Delegate David Albo addressed the Virginia House earlier this year in support of new laws (SB 284) involving the prosecution of sex crimes against children. In his testimony, Del. Albo noted that “when you talk about child porn, it’s not just pictures . . . now . . . it’s much more gruesome . . . ; if you could think of the most disgusting and worse thing that a man could do to a kid, make it worse and add infants and toddlers to it, it’s that bad.” Del. Albo went on to state that perpetrators film their crimes and these explicit videos are widely available on the web. Further, pedophiles create and make available on the internet “grooming” videos that portray pedophilia as “normal and natural” ending these cartoons with confetti and clapping, “presumably to encourage children to view this as good.”
As justice agencies at every level attempt to apprehend and convict these perpetrators, Voom Technologies’ Shadow 2 is gaining a foothold as a necessary technology for the investigation, analysis and presentation of evidence in internet sex crimes against children. Voom’s patented technology allows a computer forensics investigator immediate access to digital evidence from a suspect or victim computer not possible with any other forensic tool, while maintaining forensic integrity of that evidence for use at trial. Not only does the Shadow provide immediate access (i.e., no imaging time; no virtual viewing set-up, etc.) it enables presentation of evidence in its native and intuitive form (just as the suspect would view it on his or her computer).
While the Shadow has been used in court to present live and dynamic evidence that is easily understood (e.g,, Mark Jensen murder trial, WI, Feb., 2008), many examiners simply connect the Shadow to the computer and take a “screen shot” of the evidence from the suspect’s computer. In other words, if the investigator pulls up a jpeg (picture) file, the picture can be captured on the screen shot just as seen. It is then easily presented as evidence in court without lengthy explanations of complicated forensic techniques.
According to Andy Anderson, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force Coordinator and ICAC Member, “The following are a few examples of investigations that led to jury trials. In each of these trials computer examiners utilized the Shadow or the Shadow 2 in preparing evidence for trial. Utilizing this [portable] equipment, examiners were able to take screen shots of the suspect’s computer showing what it looked like to the suspect. These photographs were used at trial as visual depictions of where child pornography was located on the computer and the view of the file, such as thumbnail photographs, proving the defendant knew the content of the illegal files. Other screen shots were used to show generally how the computer was viewed by the defendant including precisely how the defendant could see or changed software settings. In each of these trials, the Shadow was instrumental in obtaining a conviction and protecting children in our area.”
Case No. 2009-4402
On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, a Boone County Jury found a 23 year old man guilty of Promoting Child Pornography in the Second Degree and Possession of Child Pornography. Upon forensic investigation of the defendant’s computer, approximately ninety videos depicting the sexual molestation of minors were identified. Upon conviction, the defendant faced a 5 years’ prison term on each count, as recommended by the jury.
Case No. 2009-6771
On Tuesday, June 15, 2010, a Boone County Jury found a man guilty of the Class B Felony of Possession of Child Pornography. The defendant was found to be offering child pornography through an internet file sharing program. Forensic examination of the suspect’s computer uncovered several videos showing the sexual molestation of minors, some believed to be as young as 6 or 7 years of age.
Case No. 2007-2029
In December, 2008, a 32 year old man was charged with Promoting Child Pornography in the First Degree. The defendant was sentenced to five years in prison for the possession and distribution of child pornography after forensic analysis of his computer identified seventeen videos showing the sexual molestation of prepubescent children, downloaded through a file sharing program. The defendant was also alleged to have offered numerous child pornographic videos to others through the sharing program.
Case No. 2007-1346
In May, 2008, a 47 year old man was sentenced to two years in prison when a jury found him guilty of possession of child pornography. Forensic investigation of the defendant’s computer revealed approximately 41 pornographic videos, most of which depicted the molestation of prepubescent children.
Case No. 2007-5422
In February, 2009, a man was sentenced to 8 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of the possession and promotion of child pornography after forensic inspection of his computer.
Although this is a small sampling of the Shadow’s effectiveness in facilitating the conviction of criminals and the protection of children from these shocking crimes, Voom’s CEO, David Biessener, stated that “In my experience with law enforcement, Shadow users assert they ‘no longer have to wait to confront a suspect regarding computer contents’ in an investigation due to backlogs in forensic labs; ‘approximately 95% of cases never even make it to trial due to the irrefutable evidence obtained using the Shadow.’” Biessener also noted, “The Shadow interfaces with any operating system and any software application, even those inaccessible by other means such as programs custom-designed by perpetrators of child pornography.”