Grace: Judges Too Lenient on Child Predators

ByABC News via logo
May 3, 2006, 7:23 AM

May 3, 2006 — -- There are more than 3 million images of child pornography online, according to the 2006 Congressional Record.

That statistic is one reason why Congress is determined to crack down on child predators.

Last month, Justin Berry, 19, who was lured into the dark world of online child porn, testified on Capitol Hill.

"A few weeks after setting up my webcam, one of these men approached me online with a proposal," he said last month. "He would pay me $50 if I took off my shirt for a few minutes while sitting in front of my webcam."

Today's testimony will feature 13-year-old Masha Allen. Her adoptive father posted explicit photos of her as a little girl for five years. One of the now infamous pictures was actually taken at the Disney World Resort. It sparked an intense hunt for Masha and her abuser.

"He just said he wanted my pictures," Masha said. "He just said that I was pretty and stuff like that. So he'd just take them."

CNN Headline News and Court TV journalist Nancy Grace will also testify before Congress. As a former prosecutor in Atlanta, she worked on many child sex abuse cases and said putting the perpetrators in jail was like "putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound that needed surgery."

It is a cause she has embraced as a journalist.

"We need to crack down on these perverts that are targeting our children online and who are peddling their images," Grace said on "Good Morning America." "Judges have to stop being lenient and start handing down hard sentences. We need more stings, more law enforcement officers on the job rounding up the pedophiles. There's just not enough being done."

It's a problem that has been weighing heavily on the minds of some lawmakers.

"I can't express the angst I have about, A, trying to find the depths of the problem; B, see what federal solutions we need to enact," said Rep Joe Barton, R-Texas.

Big Business

According to the 2006 Congressional Record, cyberspace child pornography is a $20-billion-a-year business, and authorities say the danger is growing. One in five children is now approached by online predators.