Jacksonville, Fla.-- Northeast Florida is a hotspot for child pornography.
Doctors, businessmen and even grandfathers are being accused of using child porn. It's become so easy to get pictures of children. Pedophiles use cell phones to take graphic images, than post them online. This crime against our kids is growing and Action News has discovered NE Florida is ground zero in the fight against this filth.
Jay Howell is a local attorney and a founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 25 years ago. He says you'd be surprised at just who is looking at child porn. "In order to access it, you go up to your room and access it on the computer. That allows everyone from all walks of life to access this stuff unfortunately, easily," said Howell.
Action News got our hands on numbers from the US Attorney's office. In 2005 there were 34 child porn cases. In 2009, there were 86. That's the largest number of any district in the country.
But Howell points out, there are more cases, because police are getting more aggressive. "The good news for us here in Northeast Florida is that law enforcement has devoted a lot of resources," said Howell.
He does have a warning for parents. "You have to be very careful about anyone taking a picture of your child." Those photos can be posted on Myspace or Facebook or even altered. Howell says the faces of the victims are as varied as the phedophiles who watch them. "It's going younger and it's growing more brutal. Fifty-eight percent are now of children under 12," said Howell.
As the problem has increased, so have the penalties. Those convicted are now facing longer prison sentences, with a minimum sentence of 5 years in jail.