More on the accused child pornographer arrested after US sought help from online public


Child pornography suspect arrested May 16, 2013 by Homeland Security officers in Salinas, CA. Photo: HSI/ICE.

A Salinas, California man believed to be the "John Doe" child predator sought in a nationwide manhunt this week appeared in federal court today following his capture Wednesday, about 24 hours after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) team issued a public appeal online for help tracking him down.

"David J. Stevens, 58, was taken into custody in Salinas by HSI special agents and investigators with the Salinas Police Department," according to an ICE bulletin. "Authorities also rescued a child victim identified in the case."

The videos Stevens is accused of having recorded, which document the sexual abuse of a 7-9 year old girl, were intercepted online by authorities in Denmark. The Danish authorities observed indicators that the perpetrator was based in the US; they reached out to US authorities for help tracking him down.

Here's the criminal complaint (PDF).

An odd detail that may interest some Boing Boing readers: Mr. Stevens is a licensed enthusiast of amateur radio.

More below, from the ICE bulletin:

The arrest and rescue came after a member of the public called in a lead to ICE's tip line. Stevens appeared before a federal magistrate in San Jose, where the case will be prosecuted.

The criminal complaint and arrest warrant for John Doe were signed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. At that time, HSI had no information about the identity or whereabouts of John Doe, but he was believed to be located somewhere in the United States. The victim he recorded being sexually abused was believed to be 7 to 9 years old.

"When the HSI special agents investigating this case ran out of leads, we turned to the media and the general public for help," said ICE Director John Morton. "A day later, a tip from the public has led to the capture of an alleged predator and more importantly, the rescue of a child. I applaud our investigators, the media and the brave individual who provided critical information. Without the public's help we would not have solved this case."

"This predator was arrested very quickly after the member of the public came forward to identify him," said Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin. "Thanks to a longstanding relationship between the Salinas Police Department and HSI, strengthened by HSI's presence at the Law Enforcement Operations Center in Salinas, both agencies worked together closely to ensure the suspect was captured quickly and vital evidence of his crimes was recovered. The Salinas Police Department is grateful to HSI and all our federal partners for their ongoing commitment to the safety and security of the people of Salinas and Monterey County."

According to the criminal complaint filed by HSI in Washington, D.C., four videos of child pornography with date stamps of April 14 and 27 were first discovered by the Danish National Police on May 3 and referred to U.S. law enforcement for further investigation.

Following Stevens' arrest, investigators obtained a search warrant for the defendant's Salinas residence where they seized additional evidence related to the case. Based upon interviews with witnesses, HSI special agents believe there may be additional unidentified child victims and are asking anyone with further information regarding the person in the photographs below, who has now been identified as David John Stevens, of Salinas, to call ICE's tip line - 1-866-347-2423 or the Salinas Police Department's Investigations Division at 1-831-758-7226. The public may also contact the Salinas Police Department anonymously by calling 1-831-775-4222 or by contacting the We-Tip line at 1-800-78-CRIME.

HSI's Victim Identification Program seeks to rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

This investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Photos in this post provided by ICE.

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  1. Hey-woah…woah…hey… If you’re leading anyone to a connection between amateur radio and child porn…woah…

    Callsign withheld because…woah…

    1. Correlative, silly, not causative. It’s interesting because it’s a very specific, very nerdy detail. I wonder if one of our readers could have interacted with him. 

      1. You say child rapists are disproportionately represented in the HAM scene? I need to quickly spread this information far and wide until it becomes a fact!

      2. What? Child rapists disproportionately eat PORK?! I’m going to make sure I tell my local supermarket’s butcher to watch for buyers of large amounts! And I’ll post that on FaceBerk!

      3. An odd detail that may interest some

        Why’s it odd? I know ‘preteen pornographer’ is quite a large and blinding headline as far as the guy’s personality goes, but that doesn’t mean he’s one-dimensional.

    2. I just skimmed over the Wikipedia article on ham radio and to my surprise, pedophilia is not even mentioned.

      1. It’s been suggest that the perpetrator was wearing khakis, and that several pairs were found hanging in his closet.

        Tonight on FOX, what do we REALLY know about people who wear khakis?

  2. Sometimes, internet, I love you more than words can say. I could never stay mad at you.

  3. Low hanging fruit. The tapes were made in late April, arrest in mid-May. Not a genius. What the ham radio connection suggests to me is that he is out-of touch (ironically.) As a ham psychologist I think he wanted to get caught.

        1. True! But it lends that little extra bit of authenticity to this rumor. ;-)

    1. I agree. Criminals who leave big fat piles of clues aren’t just stupid – they’re self-destructive. This guy wasn’t even trying to hide his identity.

      1.  I hate to imagine it, but in this guy’s beergut swilling mind he either figured he was some champion child abuser who wanted to free himself from the “traditional” constraints of anonymity, or decided it was time to get some infamy.

        I think it was on purpose, although I’m utterly unaware of what gets trafficked back and forth between these people.  What frightens me is if it wasn’t, how many abusers with how many victims are circulating videos like this?

        1. Yeah, I really wonder if these arseholes are all in a sick one-upmanship contest where they get points for appearing in a video instead of “merely” distributing them.

          1. Well this story shows that when they get those points, they get busted. It kind of reminds me of the kids who rob a bank and then post photos of their loot on Facebook.

  4. My only concern is that his extremely short expected life span may mean that some children in need of help will be overlooked.

      1. I was referring to “Rev: KE6TKO – Tue Jun 16 22:35:08 1998”.
        I believe that’s when his bio-text was modified. Other details like updates to license status in the details section are updated automatically. Perhaps it was automatically updated when he got a vanity call and dropped the “E”, but his bio is old.

    1. Disney didn’t have ICE raiding websites for them, so they had a minute to handle the issue.

  5. Seriously. Everyone is ignoring that this man, if he truly is the person who committed these crimes, destroyed the chance for this little girl to have any semblance of a normal life . It’s sick and to joke about anything else shows an incredible amount of insensitivity.

    Put your petty comments aside for a moment and think about how much fear that girl must have felt. Does that make you uncomfortable? Good. Now try to go do something good in the world to counterbalance the crap people like this man are spewing all over humanity.

    1. “It’s sick and to joke about anything else shows an incredible amount of insensitivity.”

      Or an amazing coping system used by people who know EXACTLY what happened to this little girl and the after effects.

      I’m sorry the internet let you down and didn’t respond how you wanted.
      Is the air nice up there on your judgmental high horse?
      For those of us down here you just look like a horses ass.

      1. Read the apologists on the original post and I think you’ll agree that they seemed more concerned about protecting this guy’s rights than they did the little girl being abused.

        1. Yes, some of those made me ill… but that’s humans for you.  The cure is education, not disgust.  (And Anonymous_Coward is completely right; we joke because we must.  The human mind simply cannot bear the weight of empathy with all the abused children in the world; there are too heartbreakingly many of them.)

          If we can’t rescue the girl and then treat the man, now that he’s identified, as innocent until proven guilty… we’re doing it wrong.

          (Proven guilty isn’t going to take long or be difficult in this case, and good riddance to him, but that’s not the point.  I don’t give a crap about this individual… but the state of the system matters hugely.)

        2. Pointing out that even monsters have legal rights doesn’t preclude being concerned about the victim. There’s a reason why there was a trial at Nuremburg and not a lynching.

    2. 1. Different people deal with tragedy in different ways.  While I understand why you would be too sick and sad about this to be able to understand why other people would joke about it please try to understand that people do not necessarily joke around because they are happy.  Often it is quite the opposite.
      2. Joking does not preclude doing something good in the world. In many cases joking is doing something good in the world.

  6. And somewhere a lobbyist just had a stroke because someone said something nice about the interwebs. 
    How will they sell their newest snakeoil fix all if people figure out its not all terrorists and evil cyberhackers?
    Oh please ICE post another case, we’ve got a lot of lobbyists to take out….

  7. I do wish they hadn’t named the operation after the technology we currently use to kill children and other innocents from the skies, occasionally bagging a reputed terrorist too. When did our society decide a Predator was a good thing to be?

    1.  I think it’s Predator as in “To Catch A…” — they named it after the people they’re trying to catch.

  8. According to a local newspaper, David Stevens had a lien against his house for unpaid medical bills. One wonders if perhaps, in desperation, he looked at his kid and said “gosh, I bet I can make enough money to pay those bills if I do a child porno.” Which would be a sick thing to do, of course, but desperation sometimes makes people do sick things. (Which doesn’t make it right, of course. Just trying to figure out how someone who doesn’t fit the profile of a child pornographer ended up doing this). 

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