With all its virtues, the internet has made the sexual abuse and exploitation of children easier, so the web is a prime hunting ground for predators. Both real and false claims of online sexual abuse occur all over the United States, including in Arizona.
Online child sexual abuse occurs when someone uses the internet as a means of conversing with children for sexual purposes. These conversations often include bribes, trickery or intense pressure.
There are several different kinds of online child sexual abuse. They include child grooming, explicit material and live streaming of child sexual abuse. It is important to keep in mind that a physical meeting is not always necessary for predators to carry out the abuse.
Just as they often do in person, online sexual predators will often befriend their victims to determine their vulnerabilities or find out how easily they might be to get close to physically. This attempt to establish trust can go on for months or even years. Offenders will find out as much as they can about a child and then pretend to have common interests.
Many predators are after explicit materials. A common ruse is to share a picture of another child around the same age, establish a romantic relationship and then ask to exchange sexually explicit images or videos.
Live streaming of sexually explicit content is similar to explicit materials. Predators will entice a child to perform a sexually explicit act online in real-time through the use of a webcam.
Online child sexual abuse charges are almost always felonies. Allegations of this nature are extremely serious and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). If convicted, offenders face substantial time in prison and hefty fines and will likely have to register as sex offenders, a label which they may have to carry for life. Additionally, offenders will likely lose their firearms and voting rights. People accused of online sex crimes need to hire a lawyer who can review the case and help them consider their options.