Here’s where to find FOX59 on Comcast’s Xfinity

Determining identify of child porn victims like “finding a needle in a haystack”

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Investigators assigned to child pornography cases said determining the identify of victims in the images is like “finding a needle in a haystack.”

This week, a Shelbyville man was arrested and charged with multiple counts of child pornography and exploitation. Police said they found more than 22 images saved on James Mohler’s computer and on hard drives.

Now begins the tedious task of finding out who the children are in the images recovered on the scene.

The Internet Crimes Against Children database is a powerful tool used by investigators nationwide. Even with sophisticated technology though, it can be difficult to find out where the images were taken and who the kids are.

“The officers who work in our special unit are overwhelmed. I spoke with one this morning who said we could have 50 troopers doing this full time and still need more,” explained Indiana State Police Sgt. Trent Smith.

Even if one person is caught, Sgt. Smith said it’s a never ending process of removing the images. Once it’s online, it can be online forever and shared with other child predators across the world, even after the person who took the photos and videos has been convicted.

“That crime is continuing to spread like a disease. One person gets it and one photograph can go to hundreds of different people,” said Sgt. Smith.

There are certain programs investigators can use to try to identify the victims. Some agencies are able to use facial recognition software. Still, Sgt. Smith said some images are 15, 20, even 40 years old. He said some investigators can begin to recognize the same children who are victims.

“Sometimes you start with a first name and an image and work backwards from there,” he said.

Many of the victims are Hoosier children. Sgt. Smith said there are more than dozens of victims from Indiana found in child porn images nationwide. Many children may not even know they are victims. Often times, investigators start at schools to try to identify the victims.

“You might have to go to a local high school, you might have to go to an elementary school and go through their yearbooks over the past few years to try to find out who that person is,” Sgt. Smith said.

If you believe a child is a victim of sexual exploitation, call ICAC’s task force and The Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.