- Associated Press - Sunday, March 2, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Court records show that in at least two cases, the Wisconsin Department of Justice took years to act on detailed and credible tips about online child pornography.

As a result, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday, (http://bit.ly/MGl1N6 ), a 19-year-old Milwaukee man with a history of sexual assault arrests has been accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy in a high school locker room. And a Pewaukee man who worked as a juvenile drug-and-alcohol counselor got a light sentence that didn’t require registering as a sex offender.

Both cases had been referred to the state by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It receives hundreds of thousands of tips about child sexual exploitation each year, but passes on only those found to be credible to state and local law enforcement agencies, said John Shehan, executive director of its exploited children division.

Two special agents with the department’s Division of Criminal Investigation were reassigned after the newspaper asked about the cases.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck said the cases “reflect some level of staff negligence.” She said officials did not know how many other tips, if any, have sat for years without being pursued. But she said the “unacceptable failure” in the two cases did not reflect the work of the department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force as a whole.

In one of the cases, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office received a tip from the center in 2011 alleging that Robert Turk, the Pewaukee man, had distributed nearly 200 images of child pornography via Facebook.

Waiting too long to investigate carries a risk that the evidence will disappear or won’t be allowed in court. Because of that, prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Turk in January, allowing the 37-year-old to plead guilty to three lesser charges instead of the original five felony child pornography counts. He’s serving three years of probation with nine months of work release and doesn’t have to register as a sex offender.

In the other case, the center forwarded a tip in 2010 that the Milwaukee man, Christopher Kosakoski, might have downloaded at least 28 images of child pornography. The Department of Justice didn’t act for more than three years - not until nine days after Kosakoski was arrested at the high school on allegations of having sex with a 15-year-old.

Kosakoski eventually was charged with 13 felony child pornography counts in February, and his attorney has asked for an evaluation of Kosakoski’s mental condition before the case proceeds.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com