On Tuesday, the South African Police Service in Pretoria charged parents of a 14-year-old girl with multiple sex crimes discovered by the State Bureau of Investigation through a Catawba County child pornography case.
“This investigation highlights the far-reaching effects of criminal activity through the internet,” said SBI Director Robert Schurmeier. “Reaching across continents, law enforcement agencies can combat crimes and rescue innocent victims.”
The North Charleston Police Department in South Carolina, a member of the national Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, sent the SBI Computer Crimes Unit information about a North Carolina man who was allegedly soliciting someone to engage in sex acts with his six-year-old niece. Working with Homeland Security Investigations Charlotte, the SBI was led to a suspect in Catawba County, who was located and found to be in possession of child pornography.
Agents examined the suspect’s cell phone and learned he was paying for, and receiving, sexually-explicit images from an individual in South Africa. HSI agents traced the instant messaging activity, tracked the transfer of funds and located an address in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The HSI Attaché, Pretoria, South Africa, working in conjunction with the South African Police Service, used this information to initiate an investigation in that country.
On Feb. 14, the girl was located by HSI and the South African Police Service. The minor was interviewed and stated her parents were sexually assaulting her and producing pictures and videos of the activity.
The child’s mother confessed to law enforcement about her and her husband’s repeated involvement in the production of child pornography and the sexual assault of the child. The 14 year old and her two younger brothers were removed from their home and placed in protective custody. The South African Police Service charged the parents with numerous crimes related to the production of child pornography, sexual assault, rape and abuse of the child.
“When partners from local, state, federal and international agencies work together to combat crimes that cross jurisdictional lines, rescues like this one are possible,” Schurmeier said. “The SBI Computer Crimes Unit will continue to seek out and pursue prosecutions for anyone involved in child pornography, no matter where they live. Every child deserves to be protected from sexual abuse.”
“Defendants such as these trafficking in child pornography and illicit sex acts against minors, strip victims of their humanity; treating them as little more than pieces of meat to generate cash,” said HSI North Carolina Assistant Special Agent in Charge Christopher Healy. “The depravity of the subjects in this particular case reaches its lowest form, by forcing underage girls into this dark underworld of abuse and victimization; the public should breathe a sigh of relief that these dangerous criminals are now safely behind bars.”