BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – North Dakota U.S. Attorney, Drew Wrigley is warning parents of potential online predators in the state.
Within the last five days, four Burleigh and Morton County men have been arrested for child exploitation charges.
These four men behind me all have one thing in common. They’ve been accused of using the internet to lure minors into meeting them for sex.
Many of them recording the acts of the minors and distributing them on the internet.
Attorney Wrigley says children have been exposed to more screen time during the pandemic, which allows online predators easier access to children.
“For a significant amount of people, less supervision for young people because parents have to work and they weren’t in school for some of the months they should have been and those aren’t the causes, but those are opportunities for those who want to commit crimes,” says Wrigley.
This week, Dawson Rouse, Tyler Satterfield and Mark Reynolds have all been indicted on federal charges.
Sexual exploitation of a child carries a 150year minimum sentence, with a maximum 30 years.
Wrigley says there are advantages to filing in federal court.
“I think the penalties available in federal court and I think the reach of our investigative tools across state and international lines to seamlessly peruse this investigation and any other investigation that pop up as a result of this I think is quite significantly enhanced by being stopped here in federal court,” says Wrigley.
Investigators say they uncover internet predators in a variety of ways.
Sometimes undercover Law Informant officers will pose as minors online.
Other times they’re tipped off by parents finding messages or photographs.
Children often tell parents, coaches or teachers when an inappropriate incidents happens.
However Wrigley says, now is the time to start the conversation at home.
“The first thing you do is assure the young people they’ve done nothing wrong, and they’re a victim in these situations and they have no concern about being truthful, and through with the information that they provide to police to preserve any and all information they have on phones and text messages,” says Wrigley.
Anyone with information about these cases should call the U-S Attorney’s Office in Fargo, at 701-297-7400.
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