SALT LAKE CITY – Today, to illustrate the severe surge of child pornography and exploitation in our state, the Utah Attorney General’s office released information about a recent five-day blitz of arrests and supports proposed legislation to stiffen penalties in those cases.
The ‘blitz’ was an effort to protect the growing number of children subject to sexual abuse and violence. During the five days, ICAC served 26 court orders and search warrants, served 11 residential warrants, arrested seven people, rescued four children, and identified two in-home (hands-on) offenders.
“These arrests illustrate the extent of the problem we’re facing and are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Alan White, Commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. “We’re grateful for the collaboration and teamwork with law enforcement across Utah. Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve been seeing an increase in cyber-tips and more graphic and violent sexual acts committed on younger and younger victims.”
During the 2022 legislative session, the Utah Attorney General’s office is supporting the following legislation to assist law enforcement in handling violent crime:
- SB 167, Sexual Exploitation Amendments (Sen. Chris Wilson) – stiffens penalties for sexual exploitation of a minor. (Hearing in Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee tomorrow, 2/17/2022)
- SB 156, Protection Against Extortion Amendments (Sen. Daniel Thatcher/Rep. Steven Whyte) – addresses the use of extortion with money, property, or reputation of a victim.
Participating with the Utah Attorney General’s Office in the blitz are Salt Lake Adult Probation and Parole, Woods Cross Police Department, Wasatch County Sheriff’s office, Homeland Security Investigations, Sandy Police Department, West Jordan Police Department, Bluffdale Police Department, Herriman Police Department, Riverton Police Department, and West Valley Police Department.
The AG’s statewide Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force handles the caseload, which will also prosecute these cases. Statewide, the AG’s office has tracked a 600% increase in child exploitation tips relating to pornography or rape of a child since the beginning of 2020. The number of tips continues to increase in Utah and around the nation.