A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky State Police Electronic Crime Branch investigations lead to 114 arrests of child predators

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Kentucky State Police Electronic Crime Branch says 2020 was a busy year for them, as they responded to over 3,000 cybercrime tips, leading to 707 completed investigations resulting in 114 arrests of child internet predators.

While the investigative unit handles a variety of cybercrimes, they partner with the Kentucky Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to protect the most vulnerable victims, Kentucky’s children. The ICAC Task Force, which includes several law enforcement agencies in the state, has received 3,137 cybercrime tips so far this year.

“I want to thank the dedicated detectives and staff of the KSP Electronic Crime Branch and the law enforcement agencies on the ICAC Task Force for being a member of Team Kentucky,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The work they do day in and day out is hard, tough and at times can be emotionally draining, but they do important work for Kentucky’s youth to help provide a better and safer state for our children to grow up in.”

A recent case involved Paige Cagle, a Lexington woman who was sentenced to 25 years for producing child pornography. The investigation began last year when a Springfield, MO man confessed that he received and possessed child pornography on his cell phone, having received images from Cagle over various messaging applications. Through an intensive investigation, Cagle admitted that she had sexually abused a young child and made videos of the abuse while in Joplin, MO, and three videos of the abuse while in Clark County, KY. Cagle will have to serve at least 85% of her sentence and will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for life upon her release.

“We are seeing predators using more sophisticated techniques to connect with young people online, and in some cases, they impersonate a youth around the victim’s age,” says KSP Lieutenant Mike Bowling. “Predators are using online games and social media messaging platforms to draw kids into sexually explicit conversations where they will eventually coach them to share inappropriate photos and videos of themselves.”

Bowling says not all tips lead to an arrest but that they take them all seriously. “Most of us who work in this branch are parents ourselves and I think that drives us to be more diligent. We know that every child is just a ‘click’ away from potentially falling prey to these criminals,” notes Bowling.

The KSP Electronic Crimes Branch would like to make parents aware that one of the best resources they can utilize to help protect and educate their children from online predators is the Netsmartz website. The website has helpful resources, videos and tips for all ages available at no cost. Citizens can report internet crimes against children confidentially by clicking here.

The ICAC Task Force Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation involving the internet.

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