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Dauphin Co. prosecutor: child pornography problem intensifying - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin Co. prosecutor: child pornography problem intensifying

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Police said Colonel Robert Rice possessed 10,000 images of child pornography. According to a child abuse investigator, this 55 year-old Carlisle Army War College war-game developer is just the latest example of a growing problem.

Child pornography is the fastest growing online industry.

Internet studies reveal it is now a $3 billion a year business -- and counting. Yet, most of us are unaware of just how prevalent this heinous practice is becoming.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack investigates the dark side of the internet every day. McCormack specializes in child abuse cases, including child pornography, for the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office.

 He said we shouldn't be surprised who is caught with child porn anymore.

"We've seen young, we've seen old, we've seen doctors, and we've seen people out of work… [even] police officers," said McCormick. "You can run the gamut of any type of person you're talking about."

The midstate has seen that recently with not just Colonel Rice, but Jeffery Schmutzler, a former Chambersburg High School teacher. While McCormack believes there are most likely psychological reasons behind the actions, but his experience also points to easy Internet access.

The Internet Watch Foundation found more than 1,500 child porn domains. McCormack said most images and videos come from overseas, but there is a sizeable market in the United States for producing such content.

On Friday, police in Central Florida reported 51 year-old John Edward Shearen of Leesburg, Fla. was caught in possession with a million images and videos of child pornography. Investigators said articles of clothing were found inside his apartment as well.

This is yet another example of how dangerous child pornography and more abusive child porn is becoming, warns McCormack.

"To see a young child or even an infant being sexually assaulted and to have the sound go with that along with the images, is certainly horrific."

Here's the ugly truth according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

  • 70% of child pornography depicts penetrative acts with adults.
  • 69% of child pornography involve children ages 10 and under.
  • 19% are infants to age three.

McCormack urges parents to pay close attention to their child's internet habits. The average age when kids view pornography for the first time is 11 years old. What's more alarming, he explained nearly every child now, including kindergarten-aged children, have access to internet and social media.

"The sexting and those sorts of things that seem so common anymore often times lead to an interest in child pornography."

Anonymity online can lead to dangerous results. Even private photos between teens are continuing to wind up on Facebook. Last summer, abc27 News even brought light to the "Harrisburg Smuts" account that posted photos of underage females.

McCormack said predators often try to convince teens and kids to send share photos. But, out of the 645,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. Unfortunately, the FBI reports 10,000 of those are missing from the system.

McCormick never wants to underplay the severity of child pornography – even if they're just photos he said it is still considered child abuse.

"We have to remember that with any child pornography, every time there's one of those images, someone was touched somewhere."

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