Undated -- Monday, the FBI announced it conducted a weekend bust that resulted in 150 arrests and the rescue of 105 children from child prostitution. While that news is encouraging, there are still children being sexually assaulted every day -- many times by people they know.
U.S. Postal Inspectors said in order to bring those types of offenders to justice, it takes courage and a partnership with law enforcement. In one case, multiple agencies combined to catch a serial pedophile.
One of the victims said, "My Uncle Rich decided to take us on a camping trip. My sister went first, I went second, and he ended up sexually assaulting both of us." The sisters were in the 8th grade at the time. In order to protect their identities, we will only identify them as Victim #1 and Victim #2. Scared and confused neither one discussed the incidents with the other - but there were signs something was wrong.
Victim #1 said, "We just came home kept living our lives, started going to school and I started feeling kind of depressed; a little anxious all the time. I started cutting and was suicidal."
Eventually, the girls confided in each other and friends about what happened. Their friends encouraged them to report the crime. Victim 1 said, "I said that isn't going to happen. This is my mother's brother, it will tear the whole family apart, I don't want to say anything." Her sister, victim #2 said, "I had thought more, if I pretended it didn't happen it would go away - and of course, which is never true."
After ten years of trying to hide what happened - the truth came out. Victim #2 said, "I had opened up to one of my best friends. Well, because his father is a deacon he is a mandated reporter, so he called it in." The girls also, finally, told their mother. Victim #1 said, "My mom went to counseling a lot because she felt guilty. It wasn't her fault - it wasn't my fault - it was his fault. He is the one who made the wrong decision he is the one who did everything wrong."
U.S. Postal Inspector Bernie Feeney said, "The accusations were horrific and they had been dealing with this particular crime for nearly 10 years - terrorized throughout." Postal inspectors got involved after local police asked for some specialized help. Feeney said they had a vast amount of digital evidence they needed assistance with, so the analysis of the suspect's computer revealed more victims.
Inspectors sent the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for help in identifying victims. Both girls say they are now moving forward. Victim #1 said, "Once the ball started rolling I realized I think I'm going to get justice for this and I'm going to be able to put this behind me."
The girls' uncle pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Both victims are now in college and say they want to help others who have been assaulted.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is available by phone (1-800-THE LOST) or website 24 hours a day - 7 days a week. They also have a cybertipline to report any sexual crimes against children.
US Postal Inspectors/WFMY News 2