Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly recently highlighted he increase in reports of online child sexual exploitation during the COVID 19 pandemic. Attorney General Raoul’s office, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force that investigates child sexual exploitation crimes, trains law enforcement agencies and provides online safety education to children and adults. During the last calendar year, the
ICAC Task Force received 5,184 CyberTipline reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Raoul’s office projects a 16% increase in reports during 2021. Officials say the great increase in reports of child pornography (possession, manufacture, and distribution) could be attributed to multiple factors. While most reports involved adults abusing children, the task force also saw an increase in reports from Snapchat and Instagram involving youths sharing minors’ self-produced content. Last year, Raoul’s investigators, along with the ISP Division of Criminal Investigation conducted an investigation in Marion, Illinois. The investigation resulted in the arrest of a 19-year-old male who was allegedly exploiting and blackmailing multiple juvenile victims in Illinois, California, and South Dakota by demanding they produce child sexual abuse material. Since 2006, the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 1,780 arrests of sexual predators. To report suspected online child sexual exploitation, please contact local law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline at 1-800-THE-LOST.