Captured: 'King of the Child Exploitation Suspects'

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.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...