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      Child porn investigations

      Child pornography cases have been in the news lately as three major busts occurred within the last month.

      We talked with a computer forensics officer who gives us a look at how he catches the illegal acts and gives a promise that if somebody is downloading illegal porn, he's going to catch them.

      "I??ve seen some stuff on the internet that would make a normal person vomit," says Lt. Patrick Avery.

      Avery admits he has a job that takes him places most people don't see. He??s the computer forensics officer for the Charlevoix County Sheriff's Office and one of the lead people investigating the trafficking of child pornography in Northern Michigan.

      ??We do undercover investigations of the IP addresses. We attempt to do a download from the perpetrators, and if we can't, we still have other ways to find the evidence," says Avery.

      He's tipped off when an IP address accesses or downloads a tagged picture known to be child porn. There are thousands of infiltrated pictures in the illegal ring that pop up on Avery??s desktop when they're exchanged. He says 50 to 100 files exchanged through an IP address is no accident and that's enough to get a search warrant and seize the computers for review.

      ??The ones that are marked are actually maybe one percent of what's actually on the hard drives," he says.

      A digital image of the computer's hard drive is made to protect information on the actual drive itself to protect the integrity of the evidence if the case makes it to court.

      So you may wonder why it's so important to get the viewers of child pornography off the streets. It??s because they're attacking the vulnerable by just watching it. We talked to a social worker here at the women's resource center, who says this act can lead to much, much more.

      "Not only are the children in the images being victimized, it encourages them to victimize other children, which puts us all at risk," says Mary Hotchkiss, a social worker at the Women??s Resource Center of Northern Michigan.

      In two-thirds of sexual assaults committed, the child knows the person performing the acts. The child doesn't stand a chance.

      ??Child pornography encourages people to see them as sexual objects. Children are not sexual objects," says Hotchkiss.

      ??The more you consume, the worse it gets. It??s like the more you download these files, the more you want to go out and download and view more," says Avery.

      And it gives Avery peace of mind when his work leads to another child pornography bust.