The Computer Crimes Unit

Computers are wonderful things. They have transformed the way we conduct business, practice medicine, write, and even watch TV and movies.

Unfortunately, they also have transformed crime as well.  One of the most infamous criminal uses of computers is the role they play in child sexual abuse and child pornography. Fortunately, we have the dedicated members of the State Police Computer Crimes Unit (CCU) working to uncover and prosecute these crimes.

The Computer Crimes Unit is absolutely critical in rescuing sexually abused children and arresting and prosecuting sexual predators. When they go through the hard drives and other electronic storage media of suspected offenders, they find all kinds of things. In addition to evidence, they often discover information that can identify kids that are being victimized, both in Maine and out of state, and use that information to stop their abuse.

The CCU has played an important role in several high-profile sex offender cases, including a husband and wife in Sanford, who brutally sexually assaulted a 24-month-old baby and took photographs of their assaults, and a man in Lisbon Falls, who was sexually attracted to babies and watched online porn of one and two-year-olds engaged in sex acts.

Unfortunately, the CCU exists almost entirely on grant funding, some of which is due to run out next year, and in the meantime they have a backlog of two to three years of evidence to go through. To me, this is an intolerable situation. There are over 500 items of electronic evidence waiting to be examined by law enforcement, and each piece of evidence represents abuse that could still be going on. The longer the evidence just sits there, the longer innocent children are being terribly abused.

This is a human rights issue for children — children who are being sexually assaulted and tortured all for the purpose of the sexual gratification of paying child porn viewers. We can’t just sit back and let this continue. That is why this year I submitted legislation to provide the resources the CCU needs not just to reduce the backlog of cases, but also to keep up with the constant steam of new cases that keep coming in.

I am working with a national organization, The National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT.org) on this legislation. They recently launched a national campaign to rescue children from sexual abuse and they have recognized this bill as part of that effort. For more information about their campaign, visit their website at notonemorechild.org

If you’d like more information on the CCU, or if I can be of any help to you in Augusta, please call my office at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

State Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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