Milwaukee FBI seeing spike in child sextortion cases amid pandemic

NOW: Milwaukee FBI seeing spike in child sextortion cases amid pandemic

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the pandemic forced many people online, the Milwaukee FBI said it has been responding to a surge of crimes against children.

"We've had investigations including teachers, counselors, firefighters, lacrosse coaches, any elected official," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Trevor Sisk, who runs Milwaukee's Violent Crimes against Children Task Force.

He said every case is crucial to protect innocent children.

"It lasts throughout their lifetime if it's on the internet, it's something that's essentially permanent and never will be erased," said Sisk.

One of the most recent cases was of former Tomah Principal David Hay. Hay was chatting online with whom he thought was a 14-year-old boy from Neenah. It was actually an undercover police officer. Sisk said Hays' case illustrates one way adults try to exploit children.

"Either they mask their true identity by trying to present themselves as a younger individual, maybe a love interest, at the end of the day trying to meet up with that individual," said Sisk.

The other is by asking for nude images, and then threatening to make them public if the child tries to stop sending them.

"Continue to send images out of fear that (they're) going to share the images you've already sent to your friends or family," said Sisk.

He said computers and the internet have made it easy for people to seek out and share child pornography. Former Waukesha County Social Worker Bernard Trokan was busted after an undercover agent discovered him using an online streaming service to find and share sexual images of children.

"I think the public would be surprised at the level and availability of child pornography out there for those seeking it," said Sisk.

He said victims have only gotten younger.

"We've had infants, only weeks old, who've been victims of child exploitation," said Sisk.

Trokan is serving an eight-year prison sentence. Sisk said federal sentences carry mandatory minimums, but he said parents still need to warn their children about the dangers of going online.

"Parents need to be smart about that and have an open and honest conversation about the dangers of the internet," said Sisk.

Sisk suggested parents set up the family computer in a central room in their home.

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