The proliferation of internet-enabled devices and an easing of access is partly to blame for an explosion in the amount of child sex abuse imagery online.
With the increase in content, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has experienced a jump in the criminal cases it handles.
The amount of imagery appears to be growing more and more rapidly.
“It’s hard to see the numbers continue to go up,” Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said. “As a prosecutor, when we see a troubling trend, we’ll try to move in on it, try to solve it, but this issue seems to be getting worse. There are more and more of these depictions on the internet, and law enforcement seems to be dealing with a never-ending amount of work on these cases.”
Detectives said they are dealing with a flood of tips about potential perpetrators.
“Everyone’s on the internet far more often now than they were five to 10 years ago,” said Sgt. Joe Graaff, a member of the Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit. “Finding and trading these images is much simpler than it was a decade ago. You really had to know what you were doing on a computer to find it. Now, you can just go to one out of 1,000 different communications platforms.”
The quantity of photos and videos of child sex abuse available online is staggering. In August, Alan Donald Higgs, a 62-year-old Vancouver man, was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of possession of child sex abuse imagery and for coercing a 13-year-old girl into sending him nude photos. Officers recovered a memory card that stored roughly 2,850 images and another card containing 77 videos.