By Brenda Flanagan
“All 14 of the men are, in short, child predators,’ said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.
And, Hoffman says they all shared computer files on a vast, underground kid pornography network — horrifying depictions that included child rape.
“We found these deeply disturbing images of these children being abused, tortured and exploited on these defendants own computers,” he said.
He says the defendants didn’t know each other. Their ages range from 23 to 74 and they come from all walks of life. Among them, two Mays Landing school bus drivers. One — Andrew Schreiner, “who allegedly exchanged sexually explicit images with an underage boy he met while online.”
Neither driver had prior arrest records involving children, Hoffman says. Investigators also arrested Michael Parker of Pennsauken — a would-be youth church minister — for allegedly possessing porn of little boys.
“He also had photos of young boys — fully clothed — on his computer from his church. Parker has not been charged with sexually assaulting any children,” Hoffman said.
But investigators did charge 30-year-old Michael Van Culin with actually making child porn.
“We allege Van Culin hacked into the email account of a 16-year-old Canadian girl he met online, and used her personal information to blackmail her into stripping naked in front of a webcam, which he then recorded in his own home,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman called Van Culin a “new breed of child predator.”
“One who lurks in the shadows of the internet, in a dark room somewhere, hundreds if not thousands of miles away,” he said.
“Operation Predator Alert” is the second big child pornography sting announced by the AG’s office. Arrests now total 28. The feds — Homeland Security investigators — can count even more.
“Since HSI began our Operation Predator in 2003, our child exploitation units in New Jersey have arrested more than 300 predators,” said Homeland Securities Investigations Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees.
These investigations involve painstaking computer forensics that identify file sharing hotspots on the so-called dark net.
“Utilizing cutting-edge software, they search for telltale digital fingerprints of known child porn as well as search terms used by those who share child porn online,” said Hoffman.
This investigation is far from over. The AG says he expects more charges will be filed and that more victims could possibly come forward.