Oneida County Children are Being Sexually Exploited, Investigators Find Difficulty Charging Perpetrators

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UTICA–Law enforcement investigated 83 cases of sexual exploitation of children in 2018, and the agency in charge of these investigations says many cases remain open.

The Oneida County Child Advocacy Center, a local law enforcement cooperate, says many perpetrators are not charged because victims do not cooperate.

“We get pieces and parts” but not enough to bring manipulators to justice, OCCAC Director Derrick O’Meara said.

A pin is displayed at the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley in Utica.

Of the reasons cited–including victims being scared–O’Meara says “you need the cooperation of the victim, and in many cases that also entails medical examinations…” “…some cases, particularly with the older children that we deal with, they won’t submit to a medical examination.”

O’Meara says of the 83 cases investigated in 2018, victims are primarily girls between 13 and 16-years-old, and the exploitation mostly occurs within and in the immediate area of Utica.

The exploitation cases are “sometimes happening in hotels, motels where their manipulator sets them up with somebody. Many times they are just, there is just a rendezvous point that could be just a public place where the child would meet,” O’Meara says.

“In most cases they are known to them, in some cases they are family members or people that are close to the family. In some cases they just meet each other, and the manipulator identifies them as somebody that can be manipulated based on the circumstances…”

– Derrick O’Meara on the manipulators exploiting children in Oneida County

Eyewitness News will continue to track this story.

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