Sunday, November 15, 2009

Children who write about being sexually abused

From left: David Mohler, Jared Mohler, Burrell Mohler Sr., Burrell Mohler Jr. and Roland Mohler face charges.

Two current stories show child victims of sexual abuse writing about it. In Missouri, the Mohlers' alleged child victims reportedly wrote about their pain, placed those pages in jars and buried them in the ground.

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In Louisiana, police have used technology to expose those who are downloading child pornography:

G. Andrew Boyd / The Times-Picayune
A real-time Google map showing where computers are located that are uploading and downloading sexually explicit images of children. State Police and the attorney general's office now have sophisticated software that can detect child pornography sharing and downloading.

Here is the opening to that story by Robert Travis Scott at the Times-Picayune:

Trapped in a nightmare of unrelenting sexual molestation and torment by her stepfather, a 12-year old central Louisiana girl tried to console herself by writing about her distress in a spiral-notebook diary.

"If you are reading this help me I really need your help," she wrote last year in a desperate three-page entry. "I am really scared with fear in my body. ... I try to pray about it but it never goes away."

The girl's ordeal finally ended when State Police, using new computer software, discovered the stepfather's criminal practice of trading sexually explicit images of children through the Internet. After officers arrested the stepfather in connection with the material found on his computer, they found the girl and her notebook, leading to additional charges and a conviction for child molestation.

The case is one of an increasing number of arrests in Louisiana and nationwide resulting from breakthroughs in software that can monitor the digital-age trafficking of images depicting child sexual exploitation and rape.

Although the story demonstrates the software's great potential and the very real possibility of rescuing abuse victims, the frustrating truth is that the technology finds many more criminal targets than law enforcement officials can afford to arrest and prosecute.

"We have the key, but we are barely using it," said Heather Steele, president of the Innocent Justice Foundation, a nonprofit group fighting child pornography.

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