Child porn arrest is the work of local Internet crimes task force


Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 7:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 7:56 p.m.

The case against an area broadcaster accused of distributing and possessing child pornography is one of many similar cases investigated by the Gainesville-based North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The task force, also known as ICAC, is based at the Gainesville Police Department with three full-time officers, including an Alachua County sheriff's deputy, and a part-time detective assigned to it.

ICAC provides information and resource sharing on cases involving child exploitation. More than 30 counties are part of the group, stretching from North to Central Florida.

"Whereever it is, we probably have a local contact or person that we know," Gainesville Police Detective and task force leader John Madsen said.

The interaction among different agencies helps prevent these kinds of cases from falling through the cracks and promotes interaction among officers locally and across the country, task force members say.

During the second half of this past year, the task force was involved in 500 proactive and reactive investigations, Madsen said. Reactive cases involve tips, while officers in proactive cases might be working online posing as a child or hunting for those sharing child pornography.

The task force seeks administrative subpoenas to compel Internet service providers to provide information about a subscriber who is receiving files identified as child pornography. About 10 subpoenas are sought on a weekly basis. At least one results in investigators taking a closer look, Madsen said.

"The biggest factors in terms of who is likely to be downloading this stuff seems to be that they, number one, have access to a computer, usually at home, and that they understand the technology," Madsen said. "We also know that 90 percent of the cases involve males, and about 90 percent are white."

In one of the more recent cases involving ICAC, Steven Michael Babik, who had hosted the "TailGator Pre-game Show" and the "Urban Meyer Post-Game Show," was charged Tuesday in federal court with receipt and distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Sources familiar with the case indicated the distribution charge involved allegations that Babik participated in file sharing in which he actively or passively allowed access to digitally stored files such as music or programs.

Babik entered a not guilty in the case Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance pending a trial currently scheduled for March 1, according to court records.

Other cases ICAC has been involved in include the prosecution of former University of Florida law school official John Patrick Shannon, who was ordered in 2007 to serve two years of house arrest followed by eight years' probation on two counts of child abuse.

That case's state prosecutor credited a detective with ICAC for work in the case after "despicable comments" were made online involving a child.

The case against Shannon began after detectives with ICAC seized computer equipment from a High Springs man, Gary J. Norsworthy, sentenced in 2006 to 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to charges including sex crimes against two boys he knew were under 12. Six other men around the country also faced prosecution because of the investigation.

In 2006, officers arrested a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, Brian J. Doyle of Maryland, who was accused of engaging in online sexual conversations with a Polk County undercover detective who was posing as a teenage girl. ICAC coordinated contact between the Polk County Sheriff's Office and Maryland law enforcement in that case.

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