Woman runs pedophile watchdog Web site

Boulder, Colorado Daily Newspaper
By Pam Regensberg, Camera Staff Writer
August 20, 2000

LAFAYETTE ? For 40 hours a week, Julie Posey is a 13-year-old girl
trolling the Internet for would-be pedophiles.

In her spare time she’s a 36-year-old Lafayette mother determined to rid
her corner of the World Wide Web of sexual predators.

Posey owns and operates www.pedowatch.org (Link:
http://www.pedowatch.org), a Lafayette-based Web site dedicated to
weeding out pedophiles on the Internet. She has helped law enforcement
agencies with more than a dozen cases in which men reportedly solicited
children online and made arrangements to meet them.

An investigator with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said
Posey helped him get up to speed on navigating through Internet chat
rooms in search of suspected criminals. Posey worked as an intern the
Jefferson County district attorney’s Crimes Against Children Unit in
1996. Her Web address is given out by Jefferson County as a resource for
parents.

“You just would not believe how easy it is for a child to be assaulted
both on the Internet and in their neighborhoods,” Posey said. “The sexual
predator has lots of tricks he or she uses to lure these kids.”

Posey inadvertently fell into Internet surfing when she began to
home-school her now 11-year-old daughter. While she was on the Internet
talking to other home-school mothers, “the predators got in,” she said.

She was appalled and wanted to do something about it.

Posey recently self-published a book, “The Internet Tracker,” that
details how to find out who somebody is online.

“I had a case where a guy was saying he was flying in from Ohio, but his
Internet protocol number was telling me he was right here in Colorado,”
she said.

Since 1996, 32 people have been arrested on information that originated
from Jefferson County. Posey said authorities in Boulder County agencies
declined her help for various reasons. Boulder police said they don’t
have the money to hire an officer to go on fishing expeditions.

“Unfortunately, there’s not enough policing of the Internet,” said Mike
Harris, a Jefferson County district attorney’s investigator. “I try to do
one case a month. If I did this full time, I could make two to three
arrests a week.”

Jeffco has taken the lead in investigating cyber-crimes. Harris trains
other officers and investigators about what to look for on the Internet
and how to track suspected pedophiles.

Harris said agencies throughout the country work under personnel
constraints. He estimates there are about 400 cops trolling the Internet
nationwide.

“It’s similar to our reaction back in the’60s with the drug problem. We
didn’t have the money or manpower. Now the drug problem is here to stay,”
Harris said. “My prediction is within the next five years, all law
enforcement agencies will have to have Internet investigators.”

Harris said he saw how big the problem was when he signed on as
“cutie2kewl.” He received 30 instant messages from adults.

Similarly, Posey enters teen chat rooms as a 13-year-old Colorado girl
and then she waits.

“I don’t say anything, but as soon as they see that I’m 13, they
respond,” she said. “They ask are you home alone? Are you naked? Do you
want to have cyber-sex?”

She admits she must walk the fine line of entrapment. If she says the
wrong thing, the entire case can be tossed out.

Posey said she has no misgivings about helping snare suspected criminals.
She said it is just a matter of time before some chat-room visitors
graduate to sexual assault.

“They first want e-mail. Then they want a phone call, and when that’s not
enough, they have to meet,” she said. “Defense attorneys say it’s a
fantasy, but it crosses over to reality with the meetings.”

Colorado law doesn’t require that there be an actual victim. Jefferson
County officials said they are confident their Internet-crimes team
prevents people from becoming victims.

Jeffco district attorney spokeswoman Pam Russell said several men have
arranged to meet the person they think is a teenager.

“Some of them show up with lubricants, sex toys or cameras,” Russell
said. “If they show up, they’ve taken a substantial step.” Teresa Wroe,
media coordinator of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault,
supports Internet trolling.

“It’s proactive rather than waiting for a child to cry out for help after
they’ve already been abused,” Wroe said. She said the Internet is another
avenue to access children, creating the potential for more victims. “We
always talk to our kids about not talking to strangers, but if they’re in
the safety of their own home and on the computer, it doesn’t feel like a
stranger,” Russell said.

Contact Pam Regensberg at (303) 473-1329 or
regensbergp@thedailycamera.com (Link:
mailto:regensbergp@thedailycamera.com)

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