Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole paid tribute Wednesday to five persons during a National Missing Children's Day ceremony at the Justice Department, presenting awards to a special agent, a detective, a 30-year veteran of the Postal Service, a prosecutor and a fifth-grader for their efforts in recovering and rescuing missing children.
The annual ceremony, first proclaimed by President Reagan in 1983, honors missing children, their families, child advocates and those dedicated to the well-being and safety of children.
"Protecting children is one of the important jobs we have," Mr. Cole said. "There is no rest for a parent who has lost a child, and there should be no rest for any of us who are in a position to help. I am honored to recognize those who work on the front lines to rescue children and bring them home safely."
He said several Justice Department programs to protect children, including Project Safe Childhood, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Amber Alert Program, have led to the successful recovery of 584 abducted children since 1996.
During the ceremony, Mr. Cole presented awards to:
• Agent Tim Erickson of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, whose inquiry of a school administrator on child-pornography charges resulted in the rescue of eight children from physical and sexual abuse and the arrest six others in five states and Canada on charges of sexual abuse and child-pornography production. Mr. Erickson seized electronic media containing 40 to 60 webcams depicting the sexual abuse of children.
• Detective Randall Abbott of the Hartford, Wis., Police Department, whose five-year investigation of a child-neglect case led to multiple convictions and the safe recovery of an endangered girl. He enhanced his investigation by seeking out specialized resources to educate himself and, in turn, prosecutors to ensure they had the expertise to pursue this case.
• H. Keith Ray, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Oakville, Mo., who participated in a search in his community and found a missing autistic child. During the search, the weather turned extremely cold, and Mr. Ray turned his attention to a nearby chapel, where he gained entry and found the young boy curled up in an effort to stay warm.
• Florida Assistant State's Attorney Greg Schiller of the Palm Beach County Sexual Predator Enforcement Unit, who secured a 25-year prison sentence for a sexual predator and worked to change Florida law to make intentional viewing of child pornography a crime. In 2011, he argued to the Florida House of Representatives and state Senate that Florida's law against child pornography was outdated and needed to be amended to meet the growing trends of persons viewing child pornography without downloading it and hiding their collections.
• Elisa Martinez, a fifth-grader from Walter V. Long Elementary School in Las Vegas, who was selected as the 13th annual National Missing Children's Day art contest winner. In describing her poster, she said, "I created my poster because I want missing children to know that someone really cares that they are missing."
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