The U.S. Marshals Service said a law enforcement team had hunted down Kenneth John Freeman -- the man the director of the Marshals Service called the "king of the child exploitation suspects," tracking him to Hong Kong where he was arrested Monday.
"Once in a while, there comes along somebody who is just beyond description," U.S. Marshals Director John Clark told ABC News.
Authorities charge that Freeman raped his daughter over a two-year period, starting when she was 10 years old. He videotaped the scenes and posted them online in what, they said, became "one of the most widely downloaded child pornography videos" in recent history, seen by millions.
"Certainly, there are sexual predators out there; there are individuals who exploit children," said Clark. "But this guy seemed to rise above all of them."
The U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave the case top priority, placing Freeman on their respective "Most Wanted" lists.
"We are rejoicing today," the stepfather of victim Kylie Freeman said Wednesday. "We're happy. An awful man, an evil man, has been captured."
Victim Spoke Out, Helped Solve Case
Kylie Freeman, now a high school student, chose not to speak at the press conference announcing the arrest, though she has become an advocate against child sexual abuse.
In December 2006, she took her story to the airwaves, appearing on "America's Most Wanted."
Her story helped authorities, in cooperation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, put the pieces together and zero in on Kenneth John Freeman.
Authorities arrested their suspect, a former deputy sheriff from Benton County, Wash., in Hong Kong after a weeks' long effort to pin him down -- a cooperative effort carried out by the U.S. Marshals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the State Department and Washington's Benton County Sheriff's Department.
Freeman fled the United States in March of last year, on the lam since he missed a court appearance that month. Sources say he crossed the border into Canada, then flew to China. Federal authorities determined he was living in Suzhou, China, and might have been working for a U.S.-based company.
With the assistance of the Chinese government, U.S. law enforcement began tracking his movements, and identified an opportunity to arrest him on a trip he took to Hong Kong to meet his second wife, whom they also had under surveillance.
Freeman, a body builder, reportedly tried to escape arrest, injuring four officers in the process.
Billion-Dollar Black Market Industry
Child porn has emerged as a multibillion dollar black market industry, though "average people don't believe it," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"The reality is, with the advent of the Internet, the problem of child pornography has exploded," said Allen. "There are more victims, the victims are younger, there are millions of people who are consuming, who are watching these images."
U.S. Marshals Director Clark noted that with technology's advances comes the downside that children like Kylie Freeman can be victimized repeatedly.
"Individuals like Mr. Freeman post pictures globally that are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. [This] means that this image of this innocent child gets replicated and viewed over and over and over again," he said.
Criminals Close to Home
"I think the depravity that this represents is impossible to overstate," said Allen. But he said the scenario of a father victimizing his own child is an unfortunate reality.
"There's a myth here," he said, "and that is the myth of the stranger."
Allen pointed to NCMEC's data, which show that most child sexual exploitation victims know the perpetrator of the crime -- at least 35 percent of them are the victim's own parents and 70 percent are other family members or someone close to the child.
"Overwhelmingly, the people who are victimizing America's children, photographing it and distributing it via child pornography are close to the child," he said. "Many of them are their dads."
"When you think of the nature of [his] crime, what [he has] allegedly done, and how it can be so harmful in this case to an innocent child, who was exploited in such a terrible way ... this case represents, for me, I think, one of the most despicable crimes I can think of," said Clark.