Crime

Man said he viewed thousands of child porn images, cops say. Now he’s behind bars

Federal program targets online child predators

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.
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The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.

A 67-year-old Venice man was charged with more than a dozen counts of possession of child pornography after investigators received a tip and searched his computer.

Jeffrey Higel was charged with 17 counts of felony possession of child pornography, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators at the sheriff’s office got two tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited children that a picture was uploaded twice from an IP address at Higel’s Venice home, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Detectives went to the home in the 300 block of Briarwood Road and executed a search warrant Thursday.

When investigators searched Higel’s computer Saturday, they reported finding 17 images of child pornography, according to the affidavit. Detectives noted there also also more than 1,000 pictures of children on the computer that were not illegal but were believed to be misused.

Higel spoke with investigators and reportedly admitted to using his laptop to look for child porn for the last three to four years, and said he likely viewed thousands of images over the years, according to the affidavit.

Higel was arrested Saturday and remains in Sarasota County jail on an $85,000 bond.

The investigation is ongoing.

Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.
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