NBC 4 New York
A rabbi, a little league coach, police officers, nurses and the mother of an infant are among more than 70 people arrested for allegedly sharing child pornography images and video online in what authorities are calling one of the largest local roundups of people who anonymously trade such images on the Internet, officials say. Gus Rosendale reports.
Authorities said the victims who were sexually exploited and photographed range in age from newborn to 17. In some videos, children were fondled. Others showed children being sexually assaulted by adults.
As part of the operation, authorities set up a website run by law enforcement that solicited illicit images of children. During the course of the five-week investigation, undercover Department of Homeland Security investigators along with NYPD detectives identified nearly 150 distinct IP addresses registered to people in the New York City area actively involved in trading sexually explicit images of children.
Another is charged with producing and distributing child pornography involving her own young child.
Several of the defendants facing charges held positions of public trust, including two police officers, two registered nurses, a paramedic, an au pair, and an individual who served as both a den master with the Boy Scouts of America and a little league baseball coach. The rabbi home-schooled children.
Seventy-one suspects were arrested in total.
Agents are still examining the devices to locate and catalog evidence -- an arduous task that could result in more arrests. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also will use its analysts to review the images to see whether it can identify children using databases of known victims.
"We refer to each of these images as a crime scene photo because that's exactly what they are,'' said John Ryan, the organization's chief executive officer.
Authorities launched the operation after the January arrest of the former police chief of suburban Mount Pleasant, Brian Fanelli, who pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of knowingly receiving and distributing child pornography.
Court papers allege that Fanelli told investigators he began looking at child porn as research before it grew into a "personal interest."