Sheriff's Computer Crimes Unit needed
Last week, a man who lives in Florida was arrested after it was discovered he had sent more than 27,000 messages — many sexual in nature — to at least 40 underage females.
But it was not authorities in Florida that first noticed the illegal computer activity of 32-year-old Justin Slavinski of Apopka. It was the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Unit (ICU) that had been tracking his online movements since March, according to Sheriff Lane Cribb.
The investigation revealed Slavinski had been communicating with minor females not only in Florida but in other states. Cribb said at a press conference last week at least one of the girls he had been talking with is in Georgetown County.
When asked if there was more than one female he had been communicating with locally, Cribb said “only one that I know of.”
Also discovered on Slavinski’s computers were numerous photographs depicting child pornography, Cribb said.
Once local investigators had collected enough evidence, authorities in Florida were contacted and they made the arrest.
Slavinski was extradited to the Georgetown County Detention Center Friday evening and remains incarcerated under a $50,000 bond.
He is charged with criminal solicitation of a minor and unlawful dissemination of obscene material to a person under the age of 18.
It has not been revealed if Slavinski had physical contact with any of the females.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carrie Cuthbertson said because the investigation is still in progress, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has asked that few details about the crime be released.
Cribb: ICU is needed
Cribb said the ICU was created in February of this year after he heard about the crimes that were taking place online.
Many law enforcement agencies across the state have similar investigative units. Most, including Georgetown County’s, are under the jurisdiction of the state Attorney General’s office.
Cribb said the Slavinski case has been the most time-consuming investigation for the ICU to date but, so far, seven people have been arrested as a result of the work being done by the ten investigators who are on that task force.
While most of the details about how the investigations take place are kept secret, Cribb said not all ten members of the ICU are working at the same time. However, investigations are taking place on a daily basis.
In many of the cases, one or more of the investigators pretend to be an underage person and conduct online conversations with an unsuspecting adult.
Despite the fact that it is well-known that such undercover investigations are taking place nationwide, there are still adults who continue to try to solicit children online.
“There is a lot going on out there and we are just doing what we can to try to stop it,” Cribb said. “They are some sick people and we are trying to put them where they belong.”
Cribb said if there is an adult predator preying on children online, “there is a good chance they will get caught.”
By Scott Harper
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