A Bible camp counselor and a Boy Scout leader were among 125 people arrested nationwide in an Internet child pornography case in which subscribers purchased photos and videos of children engaged in sex acts with adults, federal authorities said Wednesday.
The case originated in New Jersey, but quickly spread to 22 states. The defendants were charged with either possession or receipt of child pornography. Additional arrests are expected.
Prosecutors said the Web site alerted subscribers that its content was illegal and urged them to be discreet about their purchases.
“When I say ‘hard-core’ pornography, I am talking about child pornography that includes images of children as young as six months involved in bondage and sodomy,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. “This type of depraved conduct is something a civilized society cannot tolerate.”
Christie said none of the defendants appeared in any of the images they obtained from the Web site. He would not identify the Web site or say whether it is still in operation.
'Every parent’s worst nightmare'
Among those arrested were a Bible camp counselor from Vancouver, Wash.; a Boy Scout leader from Mission, Texas; and a pharmaceutical researcher in New Jersey.
Several of those arrested nationwide have prior records for molesting or sexually assaulting children, officials said.
One defendant from San Diego told agents at his arrest that he had molested at least eight children over a 30-year period, and boasted of being able to identify particularly vulnerable children, said Christie.
Another defendant from Sacramento, Calif., was found to be in possession of a hand-held video camera with a videotape showing him sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl, Christie said.
“I’m the father of four young children between the ages of 13 and 3,” Christie said. “This is every parent’s worst nightmare. It is just deeply disturbing to know there are people like this out there in our neighborhoods.”