A Sobering Look at the ‘Sinister Web’ of Child Pornography

Harrowing front page heralds five-part Shreveport Times investigation

A USA Today Network investigation.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

In April, The Shreveport Times noted the arrest of a local man for possession of child pornography. The individual had been tracked via a police investigation in Oswego County, N.Y.

That item serves as a chillingly mundane prelude to the five-part investigative series launched by the paper on Sunday. Reporter Lex Talamo documents how the Internet has greatly complicated the fight against this scourge as well as allowed perpetrators to share terrabytes of data.

From the series:

The impact on child victims often is evident in their eyes, said Detective Melissa Welch, who has investigated child pornography cases for the Louisiana State Police for the past decade.

“There’s something about their eyes that tells it all,” Welch said. “You don’t ever forget their eyes.”

Raymond Smith, an inspector with the U.S. Postal Service’s Child Pornography and Adult Obscenity Unit, made a similar connection before Congress in 2006. He read the following words from a letter by a child pornography victim:

“When I was a little girl, and when I was being photographed and raped,” the victim wrote, “I used to try to send messages with my eyes down the lens and hope that one day a good person might see and come to help us.”

The job of policing these crimes also takes a heavy toll on members of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office task force. The Times series, which includes a variety of compelling video and audio components, runs in print through Thursday.

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.