Federal officials in Iowa are broadening their crackdown to catch on-line sex predators. Matthew Whitaker, the U.S. Attorney for Iowa’s southern district, says it will involve computer training and teamwork. “We are going to have a federal, state and local partnership where we’re going to train up some local detectives. We’re going to use the (three) Iowa Crimes Against Children Task Forces around the state, and then we’re also going to use the federal resources of our investigative network of agents,” Whitaker says.
“We’re going to put the full-court press on pornographers and Internet child-enticers and the like.” It’s part of “Project Safe Child” that was initiated two weeks ago by the U.S. Attorney General. A national television network has been broadcasting its own “sting” operation — having someone in an Internet chat room portray a child, agree to a meeting in what the man believes is the child’s empty home, then confronting the man in that home before authorities arrest him for trying to have sex with a minor.
Whitaker says those kind of on-line stings will be part of the Iowa effort. “We are also going to go after those who are trying to lure children to malls or to send child pornography across the Internet,” Whitaker says. “It’ll be a multifaceted investigative approach.”
Whitaker held a news conference in Iowa City yesterday, and had a Des Moines Police Department detective go into an on-line chatroom and pose as “Jenny” — as a 14-year-old girl. The cop quickly had a hit from a man who said he was 35 years old and who tried to steer the conversation to sex.