Child pornography, a growing problem locally

Friday, April 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

If it seems like we hear more and more about child pornography cases, there's a reason. At least in Tulsa, detectives say they've seen an explosion of child sex crimes in the past 15 years.

You only have to surf the internet for a few minutes before finding pictures of child pornography. Tulsa Police sex crimes detectives say they can't help but think this readily available information contributes to the increase they've seen of child sex crimes.

Tulsa Police Sgt Gary Stansill, Sex Crimes: "Look at photos is not good enough anymore and they decide to act out their fantasies with an actual victim." Not so long ago, Tulsa had one unit to deal with all sex crimes, infants to senior citizens. But, because of the increased case load, there are now three separate units. The child crisis unit investigates sex crimes for children 10 and under. The child exploitation unit handles cases from 11 to 15 and the sex crimes unit handles all victims, 16 and older.

Police say the trend is unique to child victims, because adult sex crimes have stayed about the same in the past decade. "I think after a point, they get desensitzed to it and they see the child as an object, they're looking at child porn and when the opportunity arises, they may take advantage of it." Another trend, Stansill sees is more victims who are boys. He says boys are more likely to wait longer, even years, before reporting the crime.

Right now, the Tulsa Police Department does not keep separate statistics on child sex crimes, but, that's likely to change in the near future.

Sex crimes detectives say a setback in this area happened earlier this week when the Supreme Court said child pornography depicted in cartoons is not illegal. And we found plenty of those sites on the web. They say whether the children are real or virtual, the consequences are the same.

The Supreme Court said the language in the current law was too vague and could include things other than child porn, so lawmakers will likely re-write it and try again.