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AP: Child porn 'social networking site' busted by feds


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Child porn 'social networking site' busted by feds

By Charles Wilson

May 27, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS – Federal prosecutors say they are working with police in several countries to investigate suspects in a child pornography "social networking site" that at one point had more than 1,000 members trading explicit images.

U.S. authorities announced Wednesday that they had broken up the international online child porn site, saying more than 50 people had been arrested in more than 50 states since the 2008 start of the investigation. They said they are also seeking the extradition of several suspects from overseas, including the alleged ringleader, Delwin Savigar, who is serving a 14-year prison term in England for sexually assaulting three underage girls.

Savigar created and ran a password-protected website from which members could access collections of sexual images — some including as many as a million files — share their fantasies about having sex with children and give advice to each other about how to build their collections and avoid getting caught, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota said.

"This was a social networking site, really," he said.

To join the group, a person had to be sponsored by a member and voted on by other members, DeBrota said. Some members knew each other only by their screen names, but some knew each other outside of the ring, he said.

"This is the largest crimes against children case brought anywhere by anyone," DeBrota said.

According to DeBrota, the group did not focus on producing photographs, although several members were found to have been personally sexually abusing children, sometimes producing images of the abuse.

"Making the material was not part of this group's conspiracy," DeBrota said.

Immigration and postal agencies also took part in the investigation, along with state and local police.

The group had about 1,000 members at its peak but had culled its membership to about 500 when U.S. officials took down the website in 2008. DeBrota said prosecutors went after high-ranking members or those who had records of abusing children.

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