Says Recent Sextortion Prosecutions Underscore Importance of Protecting Hoosier Children
EVANSVILLE — Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, held a press conference in Evansville this morning to discuss ongoing efforts to protect Hoosier children from exploitation. Hogsett specifically pointed to the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, which earlier this week resulted in the charging of an Indiana man on sextortion charges.“As a member of the law enforcement community, and more important, as a parent, these are the types of cases that keep me up at night,” Hogsett said. “Working with our federal and local law enforcement partners, our nationally-recognized prosecution team is sending a powerful message as to how seriously this office treats any allegations of child exploitation.”
On Monday, Hogsett announced that Richard Leon Finkbiner, age 39, of Brazil, Indiana, has been charged with the sexual exploitation of children by inducing and coercing at least two minors to engage in sexually explicit activity that Finkbiner allegedly captured with a webcam, conduct frequently referred to as sextortion.
Although only two victims have been identified and confirmed at this early stage of the investigation, the complaint further alleges that during the course of the execution of the federal search warrant at Finkbiner’s residence, additional evidence developed. This includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s discovery of thousands of sexually explicit images and videos depicting hundreds of individuals, which may indicate the existence of many other victims.
Until initial forensic examinations are complete, it is impossible to estimate the possible number of Indiana victims that may have been affected. The investigation in this case is developing rapidly and still ongoing. As such, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is urging those who may have been victimized or who may have information about possible victims to contact the Indianapolis Cybersquad Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (877) 542-8979.
“Unfortunately, allegations such as those included in this criminal complaint have become more common, and as such, we are redoubling our efforts through the Project Safe Childhood initiative to identify and bring to justice those found to be engaging in such disturbing behavior,” Hogsett noted.
This case was brought as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more on Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov
“I urge anyone with information about this case to contact the federal authorities as we move forward with this investigation,” Hogsett added. “I pledge that our Project Safe Childhood team will continue to be vigorous in the investigation and prosecution of anyone found to be endangering the safety of children here in Indiana or anywhere else.”
Hogsett also stressed the critical role parents play in preventing such crimes, and he offered advice on how to minimize the risk of children becoming a victim of exploitation online. These included:
*Information from FBI Press Release 04/12/12.