407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

Peter J. Barnes, Jr.

Online Sexual Predators
Don't Let Them Get Away


Peter J. Barnes, Jr
New Jersey Assemblyman
District 18

The State Police receive between 350-400 sex crime reports each year from the

Man at computer
A-3786 will make it easier for State Police to trace back the sexually explicit images to an account holder and a specific location.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. However, due to a technical and unintended oversight in current law, they are only capable of investigating a fraction of these crimes.

At four-years-old, little Baby J should have been out building sand castles at the beach or visiting the local playground. But, no, not Baby J. Instead, she spent months of her most formative years as the repeated victim of sexual torture. Worst of all, she was victimized at the hands of a supposed loved one -- her father. To make an already tragic story more horrifying, her father memorialized each encounter on video tape and traded these videos online like baseball cards to other pedophiles.

It was this very sobering story that the New Jersey State Police and FBI shared when they testified before the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee in March to highlight the increasing prevalence of online sex crimes and the difficulty they face when investigating such heinous offenses. Indeed, underneath this true story lies a startling truth in New Jersey - our law enforcement agencies do not always receive the tools and resources they need to keep New Jersey children safe when it comes to online sex crimes.

What we do know, though, is that every year, the number of complaints regarding online sexual crimes against children increases at unprecedented rates. In fact, the New Jersey State Police indicate that they receive between 350-400 sex crime reports each year from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. However, due to a technical and unintended oversight in current law, they are only capable of investigating a fraction of these crimes. How can this possibly be true?

The simple answer is that the State Police are handicapped by their inability to acquire an offender's IP (internet protocol) address expeditiously. This information allows the State Police to trace back the sexually explicit images to an account holder and a specific location.

However, in order to obtain the IP address of a predator, the State Police must navigate through a bureaucratic quagmire by filing a Communications Information Order (CIO), which must be reviewed and approved by their immediate supervisor, a Deputy Attorney General, and a presiding Judge as well as file a request for a subpoena from the County Prosecutor's Office. This cumbersome process causes significant delays - often of more than 42 days -- during which time pertinent IP address records are erased by the local service providers, who are only capable of maintaining these logging records for 25-30 days. Consequently, the loss of this information stifles any attempt to investigate the matter further.

As such, I have sponsored Assembly Bill 3786, a bill that would remedy this oversight to allow the State Police to acquire an offender's IP address as part of the requested subpoena through the County Prosecutor's Office within ten days. Specifically, it would streamline the information gathering process by eliminating the need to obtain the lengthy and complicated CIO. Indeed, New Jersey has been behind the learning curve in this area as most other states have already adopted measures similar to the one I am proposing.

Additionally, and perhaps most important, there is one more concern with respect to our current state law-- it prohibits the FBI from sharing critical information with the State Police. For instance, if the FBI obtains information that involves an online sex crime in New Jersey using the expeditious federal subpoena process, court rulings prevent them from sharing this material with the State Police. Instead, the State Police are required to initiate their own investigation and request additional CIOs and subpoenas. By having to restart this investigation, a great amount of time is lost and the probability of an arrest, let alone conviction, is minimal. If A-3786 passes, it will allow immediate communication between these two agencies.

For those who live in Middlesex County - and all across New Jersey for that matter - who still feel that their small, quiet, little town is immune to these online sexual predators, consider the recent arrest of an Edison man who was caught by undercover officers in an online chat room initiating sexual dialogue with what he thought was a fifteen-year-old girl. According to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, this Edison resident was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. The fact that this potential predator was arrested is a comforting thought; however, one should not be lulled into a false sense of security. In fact, according to the FBI, the average molester commits numerous sexual offenses prior to being apprehended for the first time.

Failure to enact A-3786 immediately could result in an increase in preventable online sex crimes against children in New Jersey. It may be too late to save Baby J from enduring this physical and emotional pain, however, her story should serve as a cautionary tale with regards to the importance of providing our law enforcement officials with the necessary tools to investigate and apprehend these vile and reprehensible indivi NJLM -Online Sexual Predators

407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

Peter J. Barnes, Jr.

Online Sexual Predators
Don't Let Them Get Away


Peter J. Barnes, Jr
New Jersey Assemblyman
District 18

The State Police receive between 350-400 sex crime reports each year from the

Man at computer
A-3786 will make it easier for State Police to trace back the sexually explicit images to an account holder and a specific location.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. However, due to a technical and unintended oversight in current law, they are only capable of investigating a fraction of these crimes.

At four-years-old, little Baby J should have been out building sand castles at the beach or visiting the local playground. But, no, not Baby J. Instead, she spent months of her most formative years as the repeated victim of sexual torture. Worst of all, she was victimized at the hands of a supposed loved one -- her father. To make an already tragic story more horrifying, her father memorialized each encounter on video tape and traded these videos online like baseball cards to other pedophiles.

It was this very sobering story that the New Jersey State Police and FBI shared when they testified before the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee in March to highlight the increasing prevalence of online sex crimes and the difficulty they face when investigating such heinous offenses. Indeed, underneath this true story lies a startling truth in New Jersey - our law enforcement agencies do not always receive the tools and resources they need to keep New Jersey children safe when it comes to online sex crimes.

What we do know, though, is that every year, the number of complaints regarding online sexual crimes against children increases at unprecedented rates. In fact, the New Jersey State Police indicate that they receive between 350-400 sex crime reports each year from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. However, due to a technical and unintended oversight in current law, they are only capable of investigating a fraction of these crimes. How can this possibly be true?

The simple answer is that the State Police are handicapped by their inability to acquire an offender's IP (internet protocol) address expeditiously. This information allows the State Police to trace back the sexually explicit images to an account holder and a specific location.

However, in order to obtain the IP address of a predator, the State Police must navigate through a bureaucratic quagmire by filing a Communications Information Order (CIO), which must be reviewed and approved by their immediate supervisor, a Deputy Attorney General, and a presiding Judge as well as file a request for a subpoena from the County Prosecutor's Office. This cumbersome process causes significant delays - often of more than 42 days -- during which time pertinent IP address records are erased by the local service providers, who are only capable of maintaining these logging records for 25-30 days. Consequently, the loss of this information stifles any attempt to investigate the matter further.

As such, I have sponsored Assembly Bill 3786, a bill that would remedy this oversight to allow the State Police to acquire an offender's IP address as part of the requested subpoena through the County Prosecutor's Office within ten days. Specifically, it would streamline the information gathering process by eliminating the need to obtain the lengthy and complicated CIO. Indeed, New Jersey has been behind the learning curve in this area as most other states have already adopted measures similar to the one I am proposing.

Additionally, and perhaps most important, there is one more concern with respect to our current state law-- it prohibits the FBI from sharing critical information with the State Police. For instance, if the FBI obtains information that involves an online sex crime in New Jersey using the expeditious federal subpoena process, court rulings prevent them from sharing this material with the State Police. Instead, the State Police are required to initiate their own investigation and request additional CIOs and subpoenas. By having to restart this investigation, a great amount of time is lost and the probability of an arrest, let alone conviction, is minimal. If A-3786 passes, it will allow immediate communication between these two agencies.

For those who live in Middlesex County - and all across New Jersey for that matter - who still feel that their small, quiet, little town is immune to these online sexual predators, consider the recent arrest of an Edison man who was caught by undercover officers in an online chat room initiating sexual dialogue with what he thought was a fifteen-year-old girl. According to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, this Edison resident was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. The fact that this potential predator was arrested is a comforting thought; however, one should not be lulled into a false sense of security. In fact, according to the FBI, the average molester commits numerous sexual offenses prior to being apprehended for the first time.

Failure to enact A-3786 immediately could result in an increase in preventable online sex crimes against children in New Jersey. It may be too late to save Baby J from enduring this physical and emotional pain, however, her story should serve as a cautionary tale with regards to the importance of providing our law enforcement officials with the necessary tools to investigate and apprehend these vile and reprehensible individuals.

To end on a more positive note, I am happy to report that Baby J's father has been sentenced to 30 years in prison on charges of child molestation. He will not be allowed to earn good time credits and will be forced to serve all thirty years.


Article in June 2005, New Jersey Municipalities