News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 13, 2012
APPLING, Ga. -- It's a sad fact that child predators are out there, and many of them are on the Internet. That's why investigators spend their time searching for criminals before they can get to a victim.
Thanks to Columbia County investigators, 22-year-old Adam Morse is now behind bars, charged with computer pornography and sending obscene material to a minor.
Investigators say prowling for predators on the Internet can be a lot like fishing. You're not going to catch everyone, but you put the bait out there and just wait for them to bite.
For Investigator Brian Jones, catching sexual predators is a passion.
"My end goal is to put myself into the place of some of these victims so we don't have another victim," he said.
And the growing number of cases is staggering. The Internet Crimes Against Children task force helps to train and link law enforcement officers around the country.
"To say that this problem is not widespread. That is an understatement. I mean it is all over the world. It doesn't have a face. It's anybody," Jones said.
Recently while patrolling an Internet chat room, Jones says someone sparked up a spicy conversation with him.
"At that point, he believed he was talking to an underage girl," Jones said. "He was being sexually descriptive. He was sending pictures that were graphic, pornographic pictures."
Jones says Morse, a college student at Georgia Tech, was on the other end of the computer. It turns out, the Atlanta man was also wanted in South Georgia for the same crimes.
"If they're doing it, then they have done it for a while. They've dabbled here and there and they're getting into it more and more and then, they get caught," Jones said.
At all times, investigators and agents statewide say they have their eyes on the Internet, working to protect those that can't protect themselves.
"If I could come in tomorrow and they said, 'OK, there's no more children being victimized, there's no more children being exploited, there's no more children that are being molested, you can lay down your badge,' I would lay it down gladly," Jones said.
And officers say you can help their fight by checking up on your children.
"If you have children, you have to police what they're doing," Jones said.
Jones says the most recent arrest was a team effort with Atlanta Police and Dougherty County deputies.
On just one of Morses' charges, he's facing up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine. He will face his charges in south Georgia before he is extradited to Columbia County to face charges there.