March 23, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
"At any given moment there are as many as 80,000 sexual predators out there trying to get access to our children," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker. It's a terrifying reality for parents trying to protect their children from a seemingly endless number of Internet predators.
That's why federal, state and local authorities are teaming up to help put such criminals away for as long as possible as assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker explains. We constantly are out there trying to get the most bang for the buck. Convicted child predator Dennis McGehee is just the latest example of how when federal and state authorities work together they can help maximize time in prison.
McGehee is sentenced to ten years on federal child pornography charges and faces 30 years on a state charge of forcible rape of a child-- all total 40 years.
Walker says educating parents and children is critical, so they've started a new campaign the theme of which is "think before you post." One part shows a teen girl trying fruitlessly to remove a provacative picture of herself from a bulletin board at school. Each time she pulls the picture down a copy reappears. The announcer says, "Once you post your image on line you can't take it back. Anyone can see it. Family, friends, anyone. Remember, think before you post."
Walker adds, "One of the things we're finding with girls between the ages of about twelve and fifteen, they tend to post pictures of themselves on their my space account, or just send pictures to their friends, and they're pictures they don't give a lot of thought to. They don't realize predators can get access to those pictures."
Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier says it's amazing how children can innocently wind up revealing information about themselves to on line predators. "Because they may be talking to a person who they think is a friend or a friend of a friend, and that person is an Internet predator disguised as someone else."
Officials urge parents to get with school or law enforcement authorities if they need advice on keeping kids safe on line.