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71 arrested in NYC and suburbs on child pornography sex offenses

Child pornography has reached “epidemic proportions, according to a Homeland Security official who coordinated a federal investigation into the criminal activity over the past year or so. He held a news conference in New York City to announce the arrest of 71 persons on sex offenses relating to possession and trading of child pornography. The arrests occurred in the four boroughs, Long Island and areas outside of New York.

What is most dramatic about the arrests is that many of the persons arrested are prominent, well-educated and successful individuals. The defendants include a rabbi, police chief, and registered nurse. They also include a Boy Scout den leader, paramedic and a nanny. In a few instances, the defendants were charged with filming their own children for purposes of distributing the videos or photos on the Internet. However, police say that none of the victims depicted in the videos have been identified, which indicates that the few charges of filming family members who are minors may be suspect at this point.

The arrests resulted in the seizure of almost 600 computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices from the defendants’ homes. The Homeland Security official declared the high volume of individuals and their professional backgrounds is “shocking” and that authorities can no longer assume that those who would stoop to “prey on children” consist only of unemployed drifters. However, the vast majority of arrests have to do with those who are accused of downloading and trading pictorials and videos and not those who actually exploit children in real-time and produce the actual films or pictures.

Each defendant’s case should be viewed independently. Each defendant must obtain their own criminal defense counsel to represent them in defending against the sex offenses charged. In cases like this, it’s critical to determine whether the police acted with probable cause and whether any search warrants exceeded the bounds of constitutional propriety under New York and federal law. It can be expected that several suppression motions will be filed in the federal and New York state courts to challenge the validity of the searches and seizures.

Source: USA Today, "Police chief, rabbi among 71 nabbed in child porn bust", Marisol Bello and Yamiche Alcindor, May 21, 2014

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