PITTSBURGH - Target 11 recently learned federal agents in Pittsburgh traveled halfway across to world to crack a recent case involving a child predator.
“These are some of the most disturbing and difficult cases we deal with,” David Hickton, U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania said of webcam child sex exploitation.
Police said Jeffrey Herschell, 53, did more than watch child sex shows from overseas on his computer from inside his home in Washington County.
“He was able to direct that activity with underage females over in the Philippines,” said David Abbate of Homeland Security.
Police in the Philippines raided the home where the shows were filmed and learned some of the girls were just 7 years old.
“Our victim in this case got paid about $7 to participate in these shows, and she told our investigators she was doing it because she needed money to feed herself and her family,” said Abbate.
Philippine police tipped off federal agents in Pittsburgh that Herschell was one of more than a dozen people from the United States watching online.
Herschell pleaded guilty to child exploitation and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
“It demonstrates the outrage of what is effectively modern day slavery,” said Hickton.
Hickton said it is a top priority, and Target 11 investigator Rick Earle learned it’s also a growing trend.
A human rights organization recently created a virtual 10-year-old Filipino girl, and 20,000 predators from more than 65 countries, including the U.S., asked her to perform sex acts online.
So far Herschell is the only person charged in the case but agents believe as many as 15 other people in the U.S. were also watching the same shows.