Lt. Shane Bates
Kentucky State Police
Electronic Crime Branch
KSP Charges Woodford County Man with Internet Related Crimes
Date of News Release: 04/04/2012
(Versailles, Ky.) -— A Woodford County man was arrested on charges related to child pornography last week after Kentucky State Police discovered nude photographs and videos of a local teenage girl on his computer.
Nathan G. Coleman, 37, of Versailles, was arrested in Pike County on March 29, 2012, as the result of an ongoing undercover Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigation by the KSP Electronic Crime Branch.
KSP began the investigation in January after they discovered someone sharing images of child sexual exploitation online. The investigation resulted in the execution of a search warrant for a residence in Versailles on March 26. During the search, computer-related equipment was seized and taken to the KSP forensic lab in Frankfort for examination. Forensic examiners located sexually explicit images of prepubescent children as well as nude photos and videos of a girl who appeared to be from Kentucky. Through further investigation, KSP detectives located and identified the teenage girl depicted in the images.
Coleman was arrested at a relative's home in Pike County and charged with 78 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, as well as seven counts of distribution of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor. KSP is continuing to investigate and additional charges are pending.
The arrest comes at a time when officials are focused on raising awareness about child abuse and neglect. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The KSP Electronic Crime Branch is part of an ICAC Task Force, which is made up of dozens of police and investigative agencies throughout the state. KSP administers the task force, one of 61 coordinated task forces created nationwide in an effort to try to combat the growing problem of child sexual exploitation cases in which technology plays a key role. When the ICAC Task Force program launched in 1998, it started with only 10 task forces across the United States.
"The ICAC Task Force Program is an important partnership that focuses its efforts to protect children online and hold offenders accountable," said Lt. Shane Bates, commander of the KSP Electronic Crime Branch and the state's ICAC Task Force. "I'm fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of investigators all across Kentucky."
The task force has officers at every level of law enforcement from local, state and federal departments in Kentucky.
"Kentucky ICAC Task Force investigators are committed to making the Internet a safer place for Kentucky's children," Bates said. "Much like other areas of law enforcement, task force officers spend a lot of time reacting to an Internet complaint that has been called in from the public. Beyond that, many of our investigators are dedicating countless hours patrolling the web for suspicious activity. Our goal is to locate and arrest someone before they have the opportunity to harm a child."
Last year, Kentucky's ICAC Task Force investigated 699 documented complaints. Fifty-nine percent of those were proactive cases, or cases in which officers were actively seeking suspects in the process of committing a crime, hopefully before a child was victimized. Forty-one percent were reactive, or complaints in which the police responded after an alleged crime had occurred. These investigations include online enticement, obscenity directed toward minors, child prostitution, along with the possession, distribution, and manufacture of child pornography. Of the documented complaints, 57 have already led to arrest, and several others are pending.
"CyberTips for Kentucky have increased dramatically," said Sgt. Mike Bowling assistant commander of the KSP Electronic Crime Branch. "Last year, we averaged maybe 60 to 70 tips a month. Now it's not uncommon for us to have well over 100 complaints each month."
CyberTips are sent to each state's ICAC Task Force commander by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Launched in 1998, the CyberTipline offers a means of reporting incidents of child sexual exploitation. The CyberTipline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since its inception, the CyberTipline has processed nearly 1.4 million reports.
There are several misconceptions about child pornography. Some believe child pornography refers to photographs or videos of babies in the bathtub. Others think of teenagers in pigtails and schoolgirl uniforms. The child pornography faced by ICAC Task Force officers is far darker and more grotesque than many could imagine. It involves pictures and videos of young children, often in diapers, being violently molested. Not only do these children bear the suffering and brutal trauma of the sexual victimization, they will continue to be exploited every time their images are traded online by individuals seeking sexual gratification.
As technology grows, so does the opportunity for child pornographers to exploit it.
"Social networking sites, chat rooms, file-sharing programs, message boards and forums all now make it easier for people to trade child pornography and connect with children. While computers and cell phones remain the primary means of communication, gaming systems that can connect to the Internet give predators yet another way to gain access to children electronically," Bates said.
"A decade ago, parents worried about the chat rooms their children visited on a desktop computer. Today, it's much easier to contact children now that everyone has the Internet in their pocket," Bates said.
Most parents have become more aware of the basics, such as keeping the computer in the family room, but more needs to be done. One goal of the Task Force is to promote community awareness and prevent victimization.
Last year alone, Kentucky's task force conducted 85 presentations to schools and community groups – reaching nearly 6,000 people.
"Technology is a both a blessing and curse," Bates said. "It makes our daily lives easier. However, it can leave our children exposed to predators. We must teach our children to use technology wisely and be aware of the dangers lurking on the Internet."