As of early April, the 53 agencies on the task force have made a total of 188 arrests leading to 111 convictions. No cases have been lost so far and 77 cases are pending.
McMaster says before the task force was developed, there was only one SLED agent trying to find predators online, but he was quickly overwhelmed. McMaster says every one is on the Internet now.
(McMaster on predators, MP3 4:57)
McMaster on predators
McMaster says the South Carolina task force is unique in the nation, because the involved law enforcement agencies involved blanket the state. He says the task force has sent evidence to Attorneys General in other states where predators lived who contacted South Carolina children, and sometimes other states send information to his office.
McMaster says Internet conversations can become sexual very quickly, and children don’t know the danger, or may think it’s funny. McMaster says often, following Internet chats, the suspected predator will offer to meet the child somewhere, or the person he thinks is a child.
Soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet may lead to a 10-year prison term.
In addition to the Internet Crime Against Children Task Force, the Attorney’s General Office also has a similar effort to stop child pornography. The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is one member of a group where members receive training on the use of special software to conduct undercover investigations related to the sharing of child pornography over the Internet. As of two weeks ago, there were 63 additional arrests for child pornography.
McMaster says it’s still the responsibility of parent to make sure kids are safe. He says there is only so much that law enforcement can do.