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10 arrested in Wisconsin underage pornography investigation

A task force comprised of members of eight Wisconsin law enforcement agencies arrested 10 people recently. Allegations of underage pornography possession or distribution were made against half a dozen people -- two other defendants are expected to be charged with the same offenses. The remaining two defendants were charged solely with drug crimes.

Officers in the five-day investigation were targeting Internet underage pornography offenders. Laws define underage pornography as any Internet or off-line visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit behavior. Defendants charged with possessing, distributing or producing images, videos and photographs of underage pornography can be prosecuted in state and federal courts. They face severe penalties if convicted.

Thirteen search warrants were issued during the Wisconsin investigation for residents of Door, Brown, Outagamie and Oconto Counties. Task force investigators claim the defendants' computers contained thousands of downloaded pornographic videos or images depicting children. The material allegedly was stored in files that could be shared.

Law enforcement authorities are concerned underage pornography crimes in Wisconsin are on the rise. A member of the regional task force said the age of minors shown depicted in these images increasingly have become children, ages 10 and younger. Reports stated images task force investigators described in criminal complaints involved graphic child sexual conduct.

A man named in the Wisconsin complaint apparently told authorities he agreed underage pornography should be banned. However, the man admitted he was drawn to the outlawed material for the "shock value" and out of curiosity.

To obtain a conviction, prosecutors are required to prove defendants were aware or should have been aware they possessed underage pornography. A defendant may be accused falsely for an accidental image download or an offense committed by another person using the same computer. Criminal defense attorneys can challenge whether the images were truly sexually explicit or whether the defendant intended to share the material with others.

Source: WBAY.com, "Police task force targets underage pornography in NE Wisconsin," Sarah Thomsen, May 18, 2015

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