FBI: Internet porn victim safe

Date: 2005-05-14
Source: cnn.com

FBI: Internet porn victim safe

Girl's suspected abuser -- and adopted father -- in prison

(CNN) -- A young girl seen on child pornography Web sites has been found and is safe, an FBI spokesman told CNN Friday.

And her suspected abuser is already in a federal prison, the spokesman said.

The man, who has been identified as the girl's adopted father, is serving the first year of a 15-year prison term, the spokesman said. He wouldn't give further details, citing the open case.

Investigators in Toronto and elsewhere were being notified of the latest development, he added.

In Florida, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Matt Irwin struggled to provide details but admitted his information was sketchy. He said information about the case was "leaked prematurely."

Based on indirect information from the FBI, he said the blond-haired girl was located in a foster home in Pennsylvania, and that her adoptive father apparently abducted, molested and took pictures of her in sexual poses.

"We believe the photos were taken around the spring of 2001," he said, apparently referring to the ones taken at a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando.

Irwin said he didn't know when or why the father went to prison.

"I heard that he was sentenced in 2004," he added. "I don't have details on his charges."

Search for the victim

The plight of the girl was brought to the attention of Toronto Detective Sgt. Paul Gillespie in 2003 by European authorities. Gillespie heads the child exploitation team of Toronto's Sex Crimes Unit.

In some of the estimated 200 pictures she is featured in, the girl is sitting on a motorcycle.

Frustrated in their efforts to find her, investigators devised in February an innovative technique to elicit tips from the public.

Since showing the face of an underage victim of child pornography is illegal, detectives used computer software to erase the girl from a photograph, leaving only her outline and the crime scene.

That generated a lead. Someone recognized the bedspread on which the girl was posing as belonging to Walt Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter in Orlando, Florida.

But the information was of little help because of the hundreds of guests who stay at the hotel and the lack of an exact time frame. Irwin says the photos taken there are believed to have been taken around three years ago.

Photo of a possible witness

As part of the investigation shifted to Florida, state and Canadian law enforcement officials decided to try another way of getting information.

On April 27 they publicized the picture of a dark-haired young girl, reclining on a couch, whom authorities described as a possible witness.

Irwin says she has been identified as a friend of the victim while in Pennsylvania, but that she no longer lives there.

Investigators believed the couch on which she was shown sitting was the same used in photos -- albeit in another location -- of the blonde girl posing sexually. Investigators said they did not know where the photo of the dark-haired girl was taken, whether she witnessed any acts of abuse or was a victim herself.

Authorities said they also found the image of the dark-haired girl on child pornography Web sites, but she was not photographed inappropriately. They did not say specifically what the girl may know. She appeared to be about 11.

According to Gillespie, of the estimated 50,000 children seen daily on online pornography, police worldwide have identified fewer than 500 -- or just 1 percent.

CNN's David Mattingly contributed to this report.


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