- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Twenty-seven persons have been charged with using a private Internet “chat room” worldwide to trade thousands of images of child pornography, including videos of live molestations, authorities said.

The charges, unsealed yesterday, were against suspects in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain caught on the heavily protected chat room known as “Kiddypics & Kiddyvids,” which was infiltrated by an international team of investigators.

The live videos, exchanged privately through online instant-messenger services, included one in which a man using the screen name “Acidburn” sexually molests an infant.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the investigation revealed an insidious network that engaged in worldwide trafficking in child pornography.

“We will continue to work side by side with our international law-enforcement partners to shut down these rings and protect young, vulnerable victims,” Mr. Gonzales said in Chicago in announcing the indictments.

Agents from the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and law-enforcement authorities in several countries participated in the sting.

Justice Department officials said seven child victims of sexual molestation were identified as a result of the investigation.

Indictments and criminal complaints were unsealed yesterday in Tennessee, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, New York, Arizona, Hawaii and North Carolina, charging 13 persons with possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography. Another 14 suspects were charged in other countries: nine in Canada, three in Australia and two in Great Britain.

The chat room was hosted on the Internet through the WinMX software program that authorities said also allowed users to engage in “peer-to-peer” file sharing.

“Molestation ‘on demand’ and an ever-younger and more defenseless group of child victims are two of the most disturbing trends ICE investigators see when they infiltrate child pornography rings. This case had both,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE. “Those who engage in this horrific behavior will not be allowed to roam unchallenged through cyberspace.”

A conspiracy indictment against Brian A. Annoreno, of Bartlett, Ill., who was identified as “Acidburn,” Gregory J. Sweezer, of Aurora, Ill., and Lisa A. Winebrenner, of Osceola, Iowa, said they and 24 others all using screen names accessed the chat room from computers around the world.

It said Miss Winebrenner, Mr. Annoreno and Mr. Sweezer conspired to trade images of child pornography through the chat room.

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