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CSAM Updates with Taylor & Ren

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
April 27, 2024 12:00 pm

CSAM Updates with Taylor & Ren

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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April 27, 2024 12:00 pm

Today, Robby speaks with Taylor & Ren about their latest CSAM case that actually happened state.

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The following program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.

William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. Well, welcome to what I think is just an amazing episode we have for you this week. I think you're going to be intrigued as we have a new attorney that's involved with the battle, and we're going to get a firsthand look at what she discovered on her way into this world of CSAM.

And for those of you like me that don't have that dialogue down yet, CSAM is like C-S-A-M, which means child sexual abuse material. And we have Taylor with us today. We have Wren. And so Wren, why don't you introduce Taylor for us first?

Yeah, I'd love to. So Taylor is a good friend of mine. She actually really helped shape me as a young attorney while I was still in law school. I got to do a lot of work with her and she really mentored me and helped to shape me as a young attorney coming up in the profession. So we've gotten to do a couple cases together over the years, some pretty heavy cases in some situations. So and she has really good experience in other areas too, not just CSAM. She has a lot of prosecutorial experience in other areas, as well as some experience being a guardian ad litem, which you can explain a little better. But yeah, Taylor, if you want to give us a little bit of your background.

Sure. So I guess I can start at the beginning. I became an attorney in 2017. And I originally started working as a family law attorney.

I never wanted to be a family law attorney. I always say that it found me. And really, when I became a family law attorney, I very quickly became a guardian ad litem. And a guardian ad litem is an attorney who's appointed by the court to represent children in cases. And so I worked on custody battles, nasty divorce cases where they couldn't agree on kids. And then I found my niche, really, in working with children use services, which goes by many different names in different states. But essentially what everybody recognizes as the people who are hired by the state to work on kids in dependency cases. So if you're working in a case where there's a termination of parental rights, or there's some concern about safety, that's what children use services does. And through that work, I very quickly started getting assigned to cases with serious physical and sexual abuse. And I represent, I can't even tell you how many kids, probably over a hundred kids throughout my time as a guardian ad litem. And sometimes multiple children in the same family who are being abused at the same time.

And it's just really awful stuff. But during that time, I also represented, I did a lot of pro bono work and I represented women who needed help getting protective orders, also known as restraining orders. Pennsylvania was one of the first states that really speared the path for women to seek protection. The Alice Paul House, which is in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Alice Paul was one of, was a Senator's wife who was being abused and she didn't really know what to do.

And she's one of the founding fathers, for lack of a better name, founding mothers for protection for women and children in Pennsylvania. And I worked at the Alice Paul House in Indiana when I was a student at IEP actually, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It's a 24 hour round the clock crisis shelter. They work with victims of rape, assault, domestic violence, all the above.

And so they have a huge volunteer base that come in and just man the phones and can provide counseling on the phones and stuff like that. And that's really where I began my journey into this life was there. But again, it gave me this background into Pennsylvania that I didn't even know existed. And I was able to bring that with me then to being an attorney several years later, because I had that background knowledge. And so in Tioga County, I also worked for Haven of Tioga County, which was a domestic violence shelter. And they offered pro bono legal services to victims of domestic abuse, which included sexual abuse, child sexual abuse even too. And I started working on protective orders with them. And then that really picked up my work with the Children's Protective Services, Children's Youth Services there, because I saw a lot of my cases overlapping then. We saw a lot of violent offenders who not only attacked women, but they attack children too, which is a very interesting, different conversation for a different day. But after I did that for about five years, so I came in under the notion that I was going to take over child sexual abuse cases.

And that's what I did. As a new prosecutor, not a new attorney, but a new prosecutor, I was very quickly inundated by child sexual abuse cases. And it's just such a different world in the prosecutor's realm to deal with that than it is in, for example, the dependency world or in family court too, because as a prosecutor, your job is to get justice. And your job is to prove people they did something wrong, and you have to prove it. And you have to get all the facts and all the evidence and things like that. And my long-winded point, how that connects with child sexual abuse material is often, we don't have any evidence, right?

We have to put kids up on the stand to testify about the most horrific things that have ever happened to them. And often these crimes occur in private. Nobody's around. Nobody knows what's happening.

You're talking about abusing a person on the parts of their body that are always covered by clothing. So nobody knows. These crimes are intentionally secretive, right? And when you have CSAM, you have direct evidence of a child being sexually abused. And those cases are just so much more powerful, because for once in your career, you can say, we know that this happened because we have the photos. And when I got asked to work on CSAM cases, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. And it really, like I said to begin, this kind of work really found me, because it's very difficult. It's very difficult to do, but I get so much joy out of working on these cases.

It's certainly the most rewarding case that you can work on, because you can get true justice for these kids. Wow. And you can't help but see how, from my point of view, God brought you guys together, Rin.

Yeah, absolutely. So around that time when she started working on her first CSAM case, I was in the office there with her. So we tag teamed it. We were kind of, you know, a team that I don't think they particularly were fond of. And we had another, an officer that we've heavily relied on over the years that's just as passionate as us.

I'm thinking we'll hear him on the podcast coming up here soon as well. We had an officer that focuses on these types of internet crimes against children. So the first case that we had, and Taylor, if you want to talk a little bit more about that, the first case that we had was, it was a tough case for all of us. It was the first one that both of us had taken all the way through trial, which brought some different complexities, having to show the jury the images and having a forensic expert on the stand to, you know, explain how he knew that the children were of a certain age. In these images, over 200 images had to be shown to the jury on the big screen of this abuse that these children suffered, because that's what it takes in a lot of cases to get that all the way through the trial process and to get that guilty beyond a reasonable doubt verdict. I can say too, Robbie, you know, not only was this the first case that we had taken to trial, this was actually the first case that I had ever seen CSAM images.

This was the first CSAM case that I ever touched. Marin knew more about it than I did. So, you know, we worked very closely together because she was teaching me. I knew that it was wrong and I knew what child sexual abuse was, but I had no idea that organizations like Lantern even existed.

This was just not in my wheelhouse. And, you know, Lantern, there are so many resources available to us. We were able to really work together. I had, you know, the foundations of the law and how to present the case, but Marin brought a lot of that background knowledge and she knew who to talk to, one of which was the officer that she mentioned earlier, who's a trooper with Pennsylvania State Police, but he's in an organization called ICAC. And ICAC is the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. And it's a national task force, but each state has their own task force.

And so our friend and our officer was a part of that task force for central Pennsylvania. And he was able to help us because this case was just riddled with problems. You know, we had brand new officers assigned to this case because literally it walked in off the street. And that's not usually how you get these cases. These cases usually come into us through what we call a cyber tip. So somebody does something on the internet related to a picture and a bunch of red flags go off and alarms go off and they send it to the ICAC guys. And they take it as a tip and they start investigating it.

You know, they start pulling strings. But that's not what happened here. You know, all of a sudden we had a patrol officer who was sitting down with, I think she was 14 at the time, you know, a young girl who walked in off of the street and said, hey, I saw something on my dad's phone and it made me really uncomfortable. And she had to describe what she saw on his phone and they didn't know what to do with her because this was just so out of their wheelhouse. You know, again, these were patrol officers who dealt with drug crimes and traffic stops.

They didn't deal with anything like this. And so, you know, our job very quickly became how the heck do we present this information to a jury and how do we not look like fools because none of us knew what we were doing, which is why that team camaraderie and that teamwork, you know, really became so integral. And our, you know, our friends with the ICAC group, he just did us a solid. He just came in and we asked him questions like daily, I think. And he was finally like, what do you guys need?

You know, I will do anything that you need. And he came to the trial unpaid, you know, in a suit you know, in a suit just sitting there waiting to answer any questions that we had because that's what it takes to do this job. You have to give it your all and you have to be willing to sacrifice everything to get a case like this to trial.

But neither one of us knew that, you know, going into it. Wow. It sounds like we got quite a case to discuss. And, you know, we're so thankful for all of you listening today. And you can see, you know, the prayer need that's out there for all these prosecutors around the country and people that come across this is God has raising up these victims. And so we come back. There's much more to learn and to be involved in for us as listeners and part of God's army. So we'll be right back with a lot more.

Hang on. Lantern Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern specializes in sending former US special operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems, such as genocide, terrorism, and human trafficking.

As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking is grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world reaching an estimated $150 billion in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services. They're gearing up for operations right now and you can go to lanternrescue.org to see how you can support them financially.

Welcome back to Lantern Rescue. I know you're like me and just kind of on the edge of your seat to find out what happened in this case. But as you were describing it, Taylor, I'm kind of curious, Wren, so was the perpetrator this girl's father? Yeah, so he was. So in this case, the person that had possession, so this is a CSAM case, right?

Just to be clear, this is a CSAM case of CSAM possession, not of CSAM production. So in this case, the perpetrator, the person getting arrested was the father of the girl that came in and reported the tip. So when she was looking through his phone, she found she was going on his phone for a different reason. She was, you know, trying to put on a song or look something up or whatever she wasn't snooping, but she happened to find these images and it made her uncomfortable. So he hadn't taken any images of her, but he had possession of hundreds of images of other children, some a lot younger than her, some around her age. They were CSAM images. These were not just pictures. They were child sexual abuse material.

They were, you know, what is commonly known as child pornography. Wow. And so Taylor kind of take us to the next step.

What happened? Yeah. So, you know, so this young lady comes in, she sits down with the police. You know, the boring background of what nobody understands is that the policemen have to get warrants. And these are very specific warrants when we're talking about child sexual abuse materials. And this was where, you know, Brandon's knowledge really came in to Key because we didn't really have templates for creating these warrants. And there had been recent issues with the Supreme Court, Ren, if I'm correct, you can correct me if I'm wrong, about the validity of these warrants. So we were able to use some of Ren's resources to ensure that these warrants were being executed correctly, that they had specific language in them, so to speak, is what we were trying to do.

And so, again, we had this young officer who had never worked a case like this, had no idea how to write these warrants. So as a team, we worked together, we got the warrants. They got the guy's phone and they do a data extraction, which sometimes we refer to as a dump to our friend's dismay. They hate that term, but it's a data extraction. So what they do is they essentially pull everything off of your phone and they put it onto a computer system. And then what happens is hundreds of hours of manpower.

Again, this is not the sexy part of what we do, but somebody has to do it. And what they're doing is they're sitting in front of a computer screen and they're clicking their mouse over and over and over and over. And they're looking at the images. They're looking at where they came from. They're trying to decide what's being pictured there. They're trying to decide, does this meet this statutory element?

Does this meet this statutory element? Can we prove how old these kids are? Is there any way that we can identify these children? Have they been identified before? So another organization that we work with in these cases is NCMEC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has been explained to me in a way that I think everybody can relate to is the agency that puts your picture on a milk carton when you go missing.

And they do that for the internet. And so we send these images to them and we say, do you recognize any of these children? Can you tell us about any of these children?

Have you ever come across these kids before? And sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you do.

And I think in this case, Ren, correct me if I'm wrong. I think we did. I think we had some of these images.

We did, yeah. Some of these images had popped up in a previous investigation, I think from like Indiana, the state of Indiana. And so we were able to get some biological information on these kids. We knew some of these kids were underage, which in the state of Pennsylvania is very important. There's a difference in the law if you can prove that they're prepubescent, meaning they haven't gone through puberty yet.

And what we're talking about generally is somebody under the age of 13 versus a pubescent minor, so somebody between the ages of 13 and 18. And in this particular case, all of our images were prepubescent. And so what I think Ren mentioned earlier is that in order to prove that, we had to get a pediatrician to come in and say that yes, all of these children are prepubescent, which meant not only did our ICAC workers have to sit behind a screen and look at hundreds of images, then we as prosecutors have to look at the images. The charging police officer has to look at the images. And then now we have to subject a pediatrician whose life goal is to help children and to make sure that they're happy and healthy.

Now he has to look at these images and tell us that yes, these are prepubescent children, and this is how you can tell looking at them anatomically. And then he had to explain the sexual acts that they were engaged in in order, again, to meet the statutory requirements. And a lot of times, that's where these cases stop. So the defendants get this information. They say, okay, you got me.

You know, I'm not going to push this any further. And then they're just working out the best deal for them. But in this particular case, this gentleman, he wasn't satisfied, right?

He wanted his day in court, which he's entitled to. But that meant that now not only did all of those previous people that I've mentioned have to be subjected to looking at this, now we have to subject a jury of our peers, you know, 12 people plus alternates, a judge, all the court staff, you know, defense of counsel, anybody who's sitting in the courtroom. Now all these people have to be subjected to child pornography. That's what it is. You know, we call it CSAM, but it is.

It's pornography. And so then, you know, we were trying to figure out, well, how do we protect people? And can we offer them help afterwards? How can we block off the courtroom to make sure people aren't just, you know, sitting in there for purposes that aren't necessarily good, right? And it became kind of a fiasco, you know, logistically trying to figure out how to do all of this, because at the same time, we have to project these images, we have to put, I think it was over 100 images, we ended up showing to the jury up on a gigantic screen that, you know, it took up a whole wall in the courtroom. And so we're displaying these images for anybody to see. And it's, you know, it's a very uncomfortable situation where you as the prosecutor standing there, clicking a button, and going through these images over and over and over. And again, over 100 images, and then asking a pediatrician to articulate in words into the record for clarity, what we're looking at. And at one point, our pediatrician actually got choked up because it was just so overwhelming.

And you're talking about a person who's been a professional, you know, for probably 30, 40 years, he started crying on the stand, because it was it was just such an emotional and overwhelming experience for all of us. And, you know, I think the original question that you asked me when we started was, how does a case like this affect you? You know, I'm a mother and I have a daughter. And when I was doing this case, my daughter was my daughter was still breastfeeding.

And I would have to go home every night and breastfeed my daughter. And I just sat there and cried, because it's so hard not to take this home with you. But you know, you you have a purpose, right? And you have a job to do.

So you come in every day, and you put on your boots, right? And you put on your big girl face, and you fight, and you do whatever you have to. But then, you know, we're people, right? We're all human beings, and we go home.

And this is the kind of stuff that we dream about, right? This is the kind of stuff that we don't talk about at the dinner table, because nobody wants to talk about this. And we can't share this with our families. We have to share it with ourselves. And so, you know, the joke amongst this community is that we're all trauma bonded.

And we really are, because really, all we have is each other to talk about this, too. But it is, you know, it's, it's just a case like this, really, it does something to you. And when I, when I took this case, I was terrified. But now, you know, I prosecute these cases all the time. Like, this is, this is my niche now. I prosecute child sexual abuse cases. And I have been now for, you know, going on four years. Darrell Bock Wow. And so Ren, you know, going back four years ago, at that point in time, you were very, very active in Landon Rescue. But this was a completely different angle to what you did, right?

Renee Richard Kind of. So we had some CSAM cases overseas that we had helped with, helped with some investigation and stuff like that. But to actually take one through an entire trial stateside, yeah, this was definitely the first time for me as well. Darrell Bock And so for you, and I know you have children, and how did that feel like? What, you know, what was that experience for you, although you'd obviously been connected to it in other ways? Renee Richard Yeah, so similar thing, some of the interviews stick with you a little more than others.

They are all traumatic, and they're all horrific. But every once in a while, you'll get this image that you just cannot get out of your head. But, you know, this is kind of the burden that we've taken on.

Taylor touched on this a little bit. We've all kind of accepted this burden to get justice for the victims, like, if not us, then who, you know, so it is horrible. And it's something that we all you know, we have group chats that we all talk in. And we stay connected, even when people move on to other offices and other jobs. So we have that community to help us out in that way.

But it is, you know, this this kind of burden that we've taken on willingly, but it comes at a cost, you know? Darrell Bock So Taylor, I'm sure everybody is like me, they want to know, did the man get off? Did he was, was he convicted? What happened?

Renee Richard Oh, yeah, he was convicted. Yeah, we had two days of trial. So that means that, you know, the jury was sat on one day, we did opening statements, we got through a lot of evidence, and then we didn't have enough time. So then they came back a second day, which is a very daunting task, not only to get the jury back, but to make sure that they all come back because, you know, it's a common misconception that we send police officers out to recruit you for jury service, right? So we are just holding our breath, right, hoping that enough people come back that we can move forward. Luckily, we didn't have that problem in this case.

So they came back. We did a second day with with our pediatrician ending our case. So we had to go through all the images, we ended up going through them twice in this case, which was really, it's an unfortunate task.

And I didn't like doing it. But it was the only way that we could figure out how to do it. Because again, our officer was not equipped to testify that these were, you know, prepredescent children and how that, you know, he knew that this was CSAM, because he didn't have that training.

Our pediatrician had to do that for us. So after that, then we close, which means we have closing arguments, which is, you know, like I said earlier, that's the sexy part that everybody sees on TV. But in the end, I think justice got it right.

He was convicted of over 100 counts of possession of child sexual abuse material. But the reason we do that is so that we can, you know, show the jury that this wasn't, you know, a person who had five images, right, because you might be more sympathetic to somebody like that. We want to show them all, you know, or a portion of what we're talking about. And, you know, people have rights. So we can't just get up there and show thousands of images that are on a person's computer, because that's prejudicial.

But we can take a sampling and charge all those images, and then show the jury, this is what we're charging, but there is more, we can tell them that. And they were very moved, you could see, there were jurors who, you know, could hardly look at the screen. Afterwards, you know, jurors thanked our office for the work that we had done. And I will tell you, as a prosecutor, that was the first time I had ever been thanked for for doing my job. It's making me get choked up now.

It was actually quite moving. Somebody had reached out, one of the jurors had reached out and wanted to let us know that he was so grateful for the work that we had done. And Ren and I had made a joke during the trial that we made lemonade with the lemons that we had, because our case was just kind of all over.

But we did it, you know, we were successful. And it's the most rewarding feeling in the world, knowing that you got these kids some justice, finally. Wow.

And I hate we are completely out of time, completely. But what was his sentence? He got two consecutive sentences, meaning that they run back to back.

And then the rest of his charges essentially don't get a sentence. Wow. Wow. And so, you know, we need to be in prayer for a lot of things as you listen to this episode, even the victims, right? Thank you, guys, for what you're doing. Thank you to our listeners for being part of this. And thank you guys so much. Thank you, Ren. Thank you, Robby.

And Taylor. Thank you. Thank you. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-27 14:41:24 / 2024-04-27 14:52:45 / 11

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