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FBI unveils program to target child pornographers

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau

Man identifed by the FBI as  John Doe Number Three, a child pornography suspect.
Man identifed by the FBI as John Doe Number Three, a child pornography suspect.

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The FBI is turning to TV and the Internet to crack down on child porn. The feds say they hope they'll be able to ID predators by taking them public. Kelli Arena explains (March 3)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- FBI cybercrime officials Wednesday formally announced a program in which agents go after suspected producers of child pornography by obtaining "John Doe" arrest warrants and releasing the suspects' photographs or videos to the public.

The images -- obtained from child pornography Web sites and other online sources -- are displayed on television and the Internet.

The effort already has paid off with two arrests, the FBI said.

A man known only to the FBI as John Doe Number One was identified by an Indiana inmate who recognized the man as Scott Hayden, who was in state custody for another crime.

A second man, whom the FBI dubbed John Doe Number Two, was identified as Thomas Richard Evered by a family member in Missoula, Montana, who persuaded Evered to turn himself in to a sheriff.

In both cases the pictures were spotted when they were aired on "America's Most Wanted," officials said.

The FBI believes that taking the photos or videos of the unknown suspects and prominently featuring them on the weekly program and on the FBI Web site will help curb the danger to children posed by pornographers.

"With these two arrests we saved eight children," said FBI supervisory agent Stacy Bradley at a Washington news conference. She said agents had evidence the two men had exploited several children before they were identified.

Bradley and other FBI officials involved with the FBI's Innocent Images Task Force placed the photo of a "John Doe Number Three" on the FBI Web site Wednesday, hoping the public will also identify the latest suspected porn producer and sexual exploiter of children.

There are thousands of pictures posted on the Internet of children being sexually exploited and many times their abusers' faces are also shown.

The FBI isolates the most recent photos to be sure the victims are still children.

The task force, which operates from a Maryland location, was able to persuade Justice Department prosecutors to begin seeking the "John Doe warrants" against suspected pornographers. Traditionally such warrants were used only in cases such as bank robberies where photos of unknown suspects were disseminated to help solve crimes.

Officials privately acknowledge the reluctance of prosecutors to seek John Doe warrants and grand jury indictments because of the serious consequences that could arise from mistaken identities in child porn cases. But FBI executives Wednesday said they have established a process to ensure no photograph is released without ironclad evidence the suspect had engaged directly in sexual activities with children.

"America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh joined FBI and Justice Department officials for the announcement of the new program.

Walsh, who had criticized the FBI for failing to take aggressive action in such cases after the murder of his son Adam in 1981, praised the new approach Wednesday.

"This is the new SWAT team for children," Walsh said.

The FBI said the photos and videos of the suspects are obtained online in a variety of ways.

"They have either posted it on the Internet or traded it with someone on the Internet in chat rooms, Web sites, on just about any kind of outlet," Bradley said.

What pornographers don't know is that sometimes they are chatting with FBI Innocent Images Task Force agents posing as vulnerable youngsters. Some of the agents receive coaching from actual teenagers so that they speak their language and are current on the things teens like to talk about.

CNN correspondent Kelli Arena contributed to this report


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