WSAZ INVESTIGATES: Tracking Internet Child Predators

By: Jessica Ralston Email
By: Jessica Ralston Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- While kids can be at risk from sexual predators in parks and playgrounds, there's a World Wide Web of danger online.

To keep children safe, police are tracking predators around the clock right here at home. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAS) helps monitor them with a mapping system using red dots that are really red flags – signs that predators are online looking at child pornography.

The ICAC can trace it all -- down to each city, each address, each computer.

As our cameras were rolling, the red dots were covering the map -- showing offenders as they uploaded and downloaded child porn in Charleston, Huntington, Teays Valley, St. Albans and Oak Hill.

Experts say, odds are, they've already done damage that can never be repaired.

“About 85 to 90 percent of those who download child porn are already hands-on offenders," said Sgt. Chris Casto with the West Virginia ICAC Task Force.

The statewide investigative team advises parents not to be fooled, saying those who set out to hurt children are most often everyday people. The ICAC team has caught and handcuffed teachers, coaches, pastors -- even police.

“We essentially have a blanket over the state in dealing with online predators," Casto said.

The ICAC has arrested hundreds since the task force was formed. Their youngest sex offender was 15 years old, and their oldest was 84.

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