WARNING: This story contains disturbing details
SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Child pornography is arguably one of the most heinous crimes one can commit against an innocent child. The crime is on a rapid rise in Utah and the victims are getting younger.
The ABC4 News team witnessed the problem firsthand. We were on the front lines as the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant and arrested a man in West Jordan for child pornography.
Our cameras were there as the ICAC team questioned and then put Charles Pete Ulibarri in handcuffs. He’s suspected of uploading an enormous amount of child sexual abuse material to his Dropbox account — 6,483 photos and videos — all of them containing disturbing images of little girls forced to perform sexual acts.
Jessica Farnsworth, Commander of the ICAC Team, said Ulibarri’s images of sexually abused children were being traded with like-minded predators across the United States and beyond.
“I don’t want to say that it’s equivalent to trading baseball cards. But in a sense, these people that are possessing and distributing child pornography, they’re trading it with other offenders so that those offenders will give them child pornography that they don’t have.”
“How are these perpetrators attracted to children?” ABC4’s Brittany Johnson asked Farnsworth.
“We don’t know. We can’t even imagine how someone would be because the images are just disgusting. Anytime you are watching a child be sexually assaulted and you are filming it, even though the child is not enjoying it, it’s pretty obvious that the child is not enjoying it. The fact that someone is sexually stimulated by that is beyond my comprehension,” Farnsworth replied.
Ulibarri was charged with 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
ABC4’s Brittany Johnson questioned Ulibarri as he was being put into the patrol car.
The ICAC agents won the battle the night they arrested Ulibarri, but many in law enforcement feel like they’re losing the war against child pornography.
“That’s not even the tip of the iceberg of what there is to see out there,” said Shelly Coudreaut, Family Justice Section Director, Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Coudreaut’s team screens the cases brought to them by ICAC and files criminal charges.
She says with child pornography, often there’s a misplaced fear that a parent’s photograph of their child in a bathtub could be criminal, or that a picture of their child running around nude at the beach could be illegal. These types of images do not qualify as child pornography.
Coudreat sees the worst in humanity every day. She describes the horrific images her team sees daily.
“We see bestiality. We see children being forced to perform sexual acts with animals, to perform sexual acts with adults. I don’t see the fascination in it.”
“We’ve seen a day-old baby, still in the hospital, hasn’t even been released from the hospital, being raped by an adult male.”
“We’ve seen video of a small girl being forced — there’s a boa constrictor around her and the man ejaculates and then she has to lick the semen off of the snake.”
Our news team obtained the court documents of 42 Utah men arrested and taken through the state system from January until now. All the men were charged with various crimes, including sexual exploitation of a minor.
“They might do some jail time, but they will not go to prison,” said Coudreaut.
Despite the horrific crimes committed against children, many offenders are given a slap on the wrist.
Documents our news team combed through support this claim.
Jordan Capener was charged with distributing and downloading child pornography. A judge sentenced him to just 60 days in jail.
Jeremy Puckett was charged with watching and distributing child porn and he only served 30 days jail time.
Another man, Peter Mckee was arrested for meeting up with who he thought was a 13-year-old girl. Charging documents stated he wanted to engage in sex. McKee served 30 days in jail.
It’s difficult to push for stiffer child pornography sentences when many federal judges believe the sentences are too long.
According to a survey by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 71 percent of respondents believed the mandatory minimum receipt of child pornography was too high.
“We’re always behind the eight-ball. We have to wait for them (perpetrators) to offend before we can stop them,” said Coudreaut.
For those on the front lines battling the child pornography problem, they will keep arresting and re-arresting those who commit and perpetuate the unspeakable crimes against the innocent and vulnerable.
“They’ve been saying the whole time while they’re on probation that they haven’t offended. But 90 percent of them fail their exit interviews, their polygraphs. They are out there re-offending and each time there’s multiple, multiple victims,” Coudreaut said.
Part two of this special report will air Friday night at on ABC4 News at 10.