A police officer, two nurses, a Boy Scout leader, a rabbi and one woman were just a few among the 71 people who have been arrested in a child pornography case in New York. Many of these defendants had professional backgrounds and were trusted in working and interacting with children on a regular basis. As a result of this case, it has become clear that it is invalid to assume individuals fitting stereotypes such as those who are unemployed and drifters, would be primary suspects in crimes of victimizing young children, said James T. Hayes Jr., Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent.
Federal officials state that this investigation called Operation Caireen, named after the Celtic goddess who protects children, has been the largest thus far in New York with arrests of predators from all five boroughs. It began on April 4 due to the concern of the large number of people who had been searching for sexual content related to children. According to Hayes the investigation indicated that up to 3,000 users were either looking to obtain or distribute child pornography on multiple peer-to-peer sharing networks. Disturbing terms used to search for such material included, “child rape,” and family sex.”
Close to 600 data storing devices were confiscated which consisted of laptop and desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. Investigators say that possible information revealed from these devices may lead to more arrests. According to officials, children as young as 3 years old were shown being sexually abused from the images that were confiscated.
The arrests began with the exchange of peer-to-peer file sharing between a police chief and a rabbi. As the trading of the files between more individuals grew it became easier to track and find the defendants. Agents also posed as pedophiles looking to collect child pornography which allowed them to uncover the sources that the material was coming from.
Brian Fanelli, 54, and Samuel Waldman, 52, were the first individuals who were taken into custody. Fanelli was a former police chief who had been teaching classes regarding awareness of sexual abuse at a Catholic Church in the city of Shrub Oak. Waldman was a Brooklyn rabbi who taught at a girls’ seminary and home schooled his children along with others. Waldman’s IP address was identified as a source that distributed child pornography.
Kenneth Gardner who is a nurse in Westchester County was charged with possession and promotion of sexual acts performed by a minor. Boy Scout Leader and Little League baseball coach, Jonathan Silber of Suffern created images and/or movies of child pornography and was also charged with possession.
Lori Bauer, 38, of Hunderton County has been accused of engaging in sexual activity with her son.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated that the fact that these crimes of possessing and distributing child pornography target the “most vulnerable members of society,” is most disturbing. She further states that these images and videos serve as evidence of “the physical and psychological abuse of children.”
If found guilty the defendants could face sentences ranging from 10-20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
By: Sarah Temori