HARRISBURG - On Monday, Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the arrest of more than 200 Internet predators since taking office in January 2013, including recent arrests in Armstrong, Berks, Montgomery and Venango counties.
In the past two weeks, the Office of the Attorney General's Child Predator Section has arrested 13 men.
In 2013, Kane used an increase in budget appropriations to:
- Renovate a section of the office to provide the Child Predator Section with a confidential, state-of-the-art command center to conduct investigations.
- Purchase two mobile forensic trucks for on-scene computer forensic analysis.
- Upgrade computer hardware and software to handle the new file sharing programs CPS agents use to target child predators online.
- Hire additional agents and attorneys.
- Invest in training for agents to be on the cutting edge of file sharing and other techniques child predators use to lure and exploit children.
The results of the increased efforts and expanded unit are evident in the 200 arrests that have been made over the past 18 months in Pennsylvania.
The arrests have included men who share and download child pornography, men who travel to meet who they believe to be children for sex and men who transmit images of themselves engaged in sexually graphic acts.
“Children have been rescued from sexual abuse, repeat offenders have been arrested and sexual predators looking to lure or exploit children have been put behind bars,” Kane said.
Richard Cotton, 34, Montgomery County
According to the criminal complaint, Cotton used a peer-to-peer network in order to make files - containing prepubescent children engaged in graphic sexual acts - available for download. Cotton also allegedly possessed a large volume of child pornography videos and images that he downloaded from the network.
Agents conducting an undercover investigation successfully downloaded some of those files and through the computer's IP address were able to positively identify Cotton's Montgomery County residence as the source for the illegal images.
The charges state that Cotton took pictures of himself engaged in sexually graphic activity and then superimposed pictures of children to look like they were performing oral sex on him or to look like he was ejaculating on their faces. These photos were then allegedly uploaded and distributed on peer-to-peer networks.
A search of Cotton's home resulted in the seizure of computers and computer equipment, which will be further analyzed by agents from the Office of Attorney General's Computer Forensics Unit as part of an ongoing investigation.
Cotton was taken into custody on Friday, and charged with manufacturing child pornography, distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
Ryan Shaffer, 23, Berks County
The charges state that agents, who were conducting an online investigation, identified a computer on a peer-to-peer network making several media files - believed to depict child pornography - available for download. The computer's IP address was later identified as serving Shaffer's Berks County residence.
A search of the home resulted in the seizure of several computers and computer equipment. A tower computer was previewed by agents from the Office of Attorney General's Computer Forensics Unit and found to contain several video and image files of suspected child pornography.
Shaffer was arrested on Thursday, and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography, three counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was released on $50,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Kevin Donnell, 49, Venango County
According to the criminal complaint, agents located several files, which contained suspected child pornography, being made available for download through a peer-to-peer network. The computer's IP address was later identified as serving Donnell's Venango County residence.
During a search of the home, agents from the Office of Attorney General's Child Predator Section and Pennsylvania State Police seized a laptop computer, which was allegedly actively downloading video files with names indicative of child pornography.
Donnell was taken into custody on Thursday, and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was preliminarily arraigned and held in the Venango County Prison in lieu of $100,000 straight bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Joshua Cramer, 25, Armstrong County
Cramer was arrested on Tuesday, following an undercover investigation into the dissemination of child pornography. Agents, who were conducting an online investigation, identified a computer on a peer-to-peer network allegedly sharing media files believed to depict child pornography.
Agents identified the computer's IP address, which was allegedly making the files available, as serving Cramer's Armstrong County residence. A search was conducted on the residence by agents from the Office of Attorney General's Child Predator Section, along with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, and resulted in the seizure of laptop computer. A preview of the device by computer forensic examiners revealed numerous files of suspected child pornography
Cramer is charged with six counts of possession of child pornography, four counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He was held in the Armstrong County Prison in lieu of $25,000 cash bail.