Child Porn Bust: 26 Men Arrested in New York City

PHOTO: Joshua Ruiz awaits arraignment
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Authorities in New York have arrested 26 men -- including a substitute teacher, high school student, National Guard member and a Harvard lawyer -- accusing them of trading images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children as if they were trading baseball cards.

"They were curators of their collections who carefully labeled, sorted and shared their cache with others," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters.

One of the suspects arrested this week is accused of meticulously sorting the collection according to age, starting with children as young as 1 year old.

"The images are not pornography or pictures of erotica intended for sexual excitement," Vance said. "These are babies, these are toddlers and children being brutally raped, sexually assaulted and exploited by adults on camera."

The arrests came after a five-month investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Child Exploitation Group.

The 26 suspects, if convicted, would represent just a tiny percentage of the 400,000 registered sex offenders living in the United States.

Under Megan's Law, law enforcement authorities are required to provide information to the public regarding registered sex offenders across the United States, including their names, pictures, addresses and the nature of their crimes. The information can be found on the sex offender website, www.mapsexoffenders.com, where people can familiarize themselves with which sex offenders live in their neighborhoods.

Statistics show that one fourth of convicted rapists are rearrested within three years of their release and charged for a new violent crime.

Why are so many potential predators living among us?

For one thing, sentences for sexual assault, even of minors, carry lighter sentences in most states than people may think.

A second reason involves the legal implications of "double jeopardy." Once sex offenders serve their time, other than registration requirements such as Megan's Law, they cannot be punished again for the initial offense.

However, Colorado has made an interesting end-run in this regard, designing a program of evaluation and continued rehabilitation of sex offenders that may hold the key for how to keep potential predators out separate from the general population.

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