Justice Department Expands Efforts Against Child Exploitation

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In the four years since the Department of Justice launched its Project Safe Childhood initiative, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky has prosecuted 129 child exploitation cases, 39 more than the national average.

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey believes Kentucky is not all that different from the rest of the nation in terms of the types or frequency of child crime, but says his district does have a good system of collaboration among several law enforcement and justice agencies.

"If you didn't have the task force concept, just think of all the information that wouldn't be shared. We would be in many cases investigating the same people, wasting resources, some cases perhaps working at cross-purposes. The task forces are critically important to amplifying the resources available to combat this problem."

Now Project Safe Childhood is getting a boost in resources. Harvey announced Tuesday that his office has received funding to hire a new attorney. That person will work primarily on child exploitation cases in Kentucky's Eastern District, which covers 67 counties stretching from Covington to Corbin.

Also under the expansion, the U.S. Marshals Service has launched Operation Guardian. It's a database of the 500 most-wanted sex offenders in the country.

U.S. Marshal Loren "Squirrel" Carl says his deputies began tracking down a non-compliant sex offender in Kentucky's Eastern District at five o'clock Tuesday morning.

"We need help. We need tips from people who know where they're at. We need people to call us and say we heard this, we heard that.' That's our job, let us filter it, but call us and help us."