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Published: Sunday, 11/20/2011

Ohio attorney general to target sex crimes against children

BY DAVID EGGERT
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

COLUMBUS -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will put the "full weight" of his office behind an initiative to prevent child sex abuse by hiring 15 investigators to catch pedophiles and child pornographers on the Internet.

The plan has been in the works for two months, before the recent scandal at Penn State University drew national attention to sex crimes involving children.

Mr. DeWine called what is alleged at Penn State unconscionable and said he worries that people will shrug it off as an isolated case.

"The tragic reality is that horrible crimes, unthinkable crimes, are happening against children every single day," the father of eight and grandfather of 17 said Friday. "We're simply not going to tolerate this anymore."

Until now, Mr. DeWine said, the job of catching those who prey on children has been left primarily to local authorities. He plans to increase the state's role.

A new 15-member branch of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation -- an agency within the attorney general's office -- will be dubbed the Crimes Against Children Unit.

When the Republican took office in January, the state's Cyber Crimes Unit had 15 employees to help local authorities with computer-related investigations and prosecutions.

Mr. DeWine has added six, not including the 15 agents being brought on in coming months to focus solely on investigating child sex crimes.

The attorney general said he can afford to hire them because other jobs have gone unfilled.

Mr. DeWine also will publicize photos of 109 Ohio sex offenders who he said molested children but have not reported their whereabouts since leaving prison and are wanted on arrest warrants.

"This is just the beginning," he said. "The safety of children in this state is our top priority, and we're dead serious about this."



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