Articles Posted in Internet, E-Mail, Text Messaging

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By David Wolf, Attorney Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

Gavel%20and%20Scales%20of%20Justice.jpgWhen a child is abused, molested, or assaulted, there can be legal consequences in the form of a criminal proceeding, administrative proceeding, and / or a civil proceeding. In each legal arena or court, proof or evidence will need to be presented so substantiate the allegations. In some cases, the evidence is overwhelming and a prosecution, conviction, or judgment is strongly supported. In other cases, law enforcement, investigators, prosecutors, government officials, and / or private attorneys are sometimes challenged to find the right evidence to prove the allegations. It should be noted that each State has a set of evidentiary laws as to what evidence is admissible and what evidence is not admissible in a given legal proceeding. As such, what may appear to be a strong case on the face may not be if the evidence is limited or excluded by the Judge. Because of the intricacies of the legal proceedings including those related to evidence, it is often times helpful to have the advice, consultation, and legal representation (when appropriate) of a Child Injury Lawyer on these matters. Here are some examples of evidence that may be admitted in a legal proceeding to prove the abuse, molestation, and / or sexual assault of a child. Again, it should be noted that the existence of the evidence is a different concept than the admissibility of the evidence.

DNA Evidence. DNA of the suspect / Defendant can be collected from the victim. This can include bodily fluids, blood, or skin. These items may also be detected and collected on clothing, bedding, furniture, and other items.

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By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

cyber%20crime.jpgDue to the high-profile cases of Jessica Lunsford, Carlie Brucia and Sarah Lunde, the Florida Legislature expanded the Jacksonville-based Child Predator CyberCrime Unit 10-fold, which included adding a wide array of detectives, prosecutors and victim advocates. The unit had five offices statewide and made hundreds of arrests. The unit became so noteworthy that its director made an appearance on “Oprah,” and was held out as a model for cracking down on sexual predators who use the Internet in their abusive acts. Although the unit appears to be one of the state’s valuable resources, it was not prevented from falling victim to Gov. Rick Scott’s vigorous budget cuts. The program’s staff was dramatically decreased from a 34-person staff to just 15 and were moved to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The proposed plan is to keep only 6 out of the 15 investigators statewide. Critics of the cutbacks are concerned that the FDLE will not have the resources to implement the labor-intensive online investigations the unit’s staff is use to conducting. For more details and criticisms read Gov. Rick Scott cuts back Florida CyberCrime Unit.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Pennsylvania and other States, children are often times the victims of child predators who molest them, photograph them, and video tape them. Local, State, and Federal authorities have been successful to some extent in catching these predators and prosecuting them for the heinous crimes. What happens if a child decides to post a photo of himself or herself on line? Regardless of the person who does the posting, it is still child pornography and the dissemination of child pornography which is a crime. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it was reported that a 15 year old girl was arrested by authorities for these very acts of taking nude photographs of herself and then posting the photographs on line. Children (including teens) often lack good judgment and really do not understand or appreciate the repercussions of their actions. Whether photographs are sent to one person or many, posted on Facebook, posted in a chat room, or elsewhere on line, there are many problems (both legal and moral) with the posting of nude photos of children on line. You can read more about this story at Teen Girl Charged with Posting Nude Photos on the Internet.

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By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

text%20message.jpgTexting is becoming an increadingly used tool in dating violence. Text messages are used to harass, track and intimidate current or ex- boyfriend and girlfriends. The use of text messages as a weapon in dating violence is a double-edge sword; the messages are concrete proof in court that dating violence has occurred but can also be kept private for a lot longer. Back in the day, the typical home had only one phone in the entire house. Today, is it not uncommon for each family member to have his or her own cell phone, thus, making easier for children and teenagers to hide the threatening and harassing texts. Other acts of abuse include location tracking by a partner, significant other, or boyfriend / girlfriend. These are multiple texts sent throughout the day demanding to know your whereabouts, who you are with, etc. For example, there was a case where a woman in her 20s was so closely tracked by her boyfriend that he demanded her to take photographs with her phone to prove her whereabouts, the photos were accompanied with a time and date stamp.

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By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

cell%20phone.jpgSexting,” a relatively new social phenomenon, has left eight Pennsylvania high school students with a felony pornography charge. The age of the Pennsylvania students ranged from ages 13-17. The students were accused of using their cell phones to take, send, or receive nude photos of each other, and, in one case a video of oral sex. Charles Chenot, Perry County District Attorney, stated the requisite acts under Pennsylvania law to be considered a crime is to take a photograph of yourself or someone else and send that photo to a third party. Chenot said he considers sexting a form of child pornography with lifetime consequences, especially if that photo ends up on the Internet.

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By Benjamin A. Klopman, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Montgomery County, Maryland, a former elementary school teacher and field hockey coach was sentenced to 5 years in prison. John Joseph Kovach served as an assistant field hockey coach at Towson University and a teacher at a private elementary school located in Montgomery County, Maryland. How did the teacher – coach and mentor to children get caught? Well, according to the news reports, Mr. Kovach went online and engaged in a sexually explicit chat with a girl who he thought was 13 years old. Following investigation including a warrant for his computer was conducted. Investigators found 252 photographic images and nine videos showing child pornography. The evidence seemed to be quite strong against Mr. Kovach. It is amazing that people go online and think they are invisible and cannot be caught. It is very disturbing to know that teachers, coaches, and mentors are trolling the internet looking for their next victim. You can read more about this story at Former Teacher and Coach Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Child Pornography.

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By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

U.S.%20State%20Map%20Washington.jpgIn Washington, a man pleaded guilty to the rape of a 4 year old girl. How was he caught? What evidence was there against him in the criminal case for the sexual abuse and sexual molestation of this Washington child? Well, it appears that the man posted a video of the heinous crimes on the Internet and thereafter another man reported him to the authorities. Brian Beston, age 36, pleaded guilty to the cirmes of sexual exploitation, child rape, and dealing in child pornography.

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By Jeremy Vishno, Attorney, and David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

computer%20mouse.jpgIn Connecticut, police arrested a convicted sex offender for having child pornography including photographs and images on a computer. Due to the large number of images located (20,000 – Twenty Thousand), it appears unlikely that the images were accidentally downloaded or mistakenly placed on the computers. Of course, the criminal defendant (Charles Heaton – age 60) in this case will be entitled to the services of a public defender or a private criminal defense attorney.

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By Robert Chaiken, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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Offender Locator is an i Phone application that allows concerned parents and others get information about the residence of sex offenders. i Phones have GPS functions that can allow an i Phone user to search databases and information by an address or by current location. The Offender Locator is a simple but effective program in providing this valuable information to parents, caregivers and others. While no system or database is perfect or free from flaws, the information can assist parents in making safety precautions and plans when there are nearby sexual predators or offenders. Parents may want to use a program like this to search for sexual offenders / predators in the child’s neighborhood, near the school, near friend’s homes, near playing fields, and other areas. Supervision is important regardless of the presence or absence of sexual offenders and predators; however, information and knowledge can serve important functions for parents with the goal and mission of protecting their children. You can read more about the Offender Locator program, its use by a Houston, Texas mother, and other technology developments at iPhone Applications (Apps) Help Track Sexual Offenders / Child Predators.

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By Stephanie F. Brown, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

technology%20keyboard%20close%20up%20grey%20slim%20keys.jpgA Bleckley County (Georgia) corrections officer was arrested in June, 2009 for distributing child pornography. A Cobb County, Georgia police detective posed as a 13 year old girl in an undercover operation. The corrections officer, Jason Shane Price, sent the undercover detective sexually explicit messages and images as well as videos of child sexual abuse.