UTICA–Minors are being sexually exploited in Oneida County, and the law enforcement agency investigating these crimes says they handled 83 cases in 2018.
“Those cases involved predominantly female children between the ages of 13 and 16 years old.”Oneida County Child Advocacy Center Director Derrick O’Meara
A majority of these instances occurred within or in the immediate area of Utica, according to Oneida County Child Advocacy Center Director Derrick O’Meara.
“It’s occurring, unfortunately most prevalently, in our lower socioeconomic areas,” O’Meara exclusively told Eyewitness News.
The Child Advocacy Center is a local law enforcement cooperative charged with investigating sexual exploitation of minors.
The investigations involve children “being exploited in exchange, on the minors part, for subsistence; whether it’s a place to live so they trade sexual favors. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s in exchange for drugs they they have become involved in and have addictions to, and in some cases it’s money. It often involves several third parties who are exploiting the children–either getting benefits of financial benefits or substance benefits: in the terms of narcotics or opioids, or something, that they are procuring in exchange for the exploitation of the child,” O’Meara said.
“We don’t see, like for instance, a ‘kingpin’ organizing an operation. We see many small instances–separate from each other…” and the targeting of minors occurs on popular social media sites–though primarily on the dark web.Oneida County Child Advocacy Center Director Derrick O’Meara
Eyewitness News will continue to track this story.