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TWO SHOW HOW INTERNET IS USED FOR CHILD PORN

Two Buffalo investigators showed the national media how easy it is to get child pornography over the Internet Monday during a news conference in New York City when they obtained pictures of a 9-year-old girl engaging in sex with an adult.

As cameras from the major networks rolled, Investigators Michael McCartney and Martin Harrington of the New York State attorney general's office went into a pedophilia chat room on America Online.

McCartney received the graphic image after a few minutes of online conversation from a trader known only by his screen name.

"We got a hit just like that," said Harrington, as cameras from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN shot footage over McCartney's shoulder.

The demonstration came as state Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco announced the undercover investigation of cyber-child pornography conducted by investigators from his office and U.S. Customs in Buffalo.

Called "Operation Rip Cord," by the state, the investigation identified 1,500 people from five countries and 32 states -- including 41 in New York -- who had sent the team pictures of child pornography.

The operation got its start in Buffalo when a pornography dealer Harrington once arrested for obscenity came across the pedophile chat rooms and contacted the former Buffalo Police vice squad officer.

"It marks a tremendous leap forward in our battle to protect children from exploitation by child pornographers and holding accountable those responsible for peddling and profiting from this despicable trade," said Vacco.

The undercover investigation has brought 120 referrals for prosecution across the country and abroad, and has so far resulted in 31 convictions nationwide.

But civil libertarians, who say they in no way condone child pornography, are concerned about the use of undercover police to monitor the Internet.

"It's one thing for an undercover agent to say 'I'm a pedophile,' it's another thing to send 25 messages to someone and convince them to send you something so you can arrest them," said Gerald Berman, executive director of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a free-speech group in Washington, D.C.

"The issue is entrapment, and that has to be looked at on a case-by-case basis," said Berman, whose group was among those who helped overturn sections of the federal Communications Decency Act in
volving censorship of the Internet. "When you use investigative undercover techniques, there are rules and regulations that have to be followed."

Vacco said his investigators have followed those rules and have yet to be successfully challenged in court.

"Civil libertarians need to justify why we should allow a market for images that depict a 2-year-old performing oral sodomy on an adult male," Vacco said.

"That's what kiddy pornography is about," Vacco said. "Kids in many instances not even knowing what's happening to them. It's not about the sexual pleasure of an adult."

Those prosecuted so far in New York include James H. Sanderson, 27, of Grand Island, a pizza deliveryman who sent the team 35 images of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in April, was ordered to undergo counseling and stay off the Internet for five years.

Additional local warrants have been served in North Buffalo, West Seneca and Cheektowaga, Vacco said.

Those convicted of trafficking in child pornography are added to New York State's "Megan's Law" registry of known sex offenders.

U.S. Customs, which took part in the investigation through the direction of Jeremiah Sullivan, the agent in charge of Buffalo, and agent Steven MacMartin, has ended its role in the domestic operation and will concentrate on international trafficking.

Vacco, citing the support of the New York State Legislature's funding for computer equipment, said his office and the State Police will continue their monitoring of the Internet.

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