ANCHORAGE, Alaska — While in jail, awaiting sentencing for charges related to the possession of child pornography, Anchorage inmate Troy McKenzie continued to self-medicate himself with a mixture of newspaper and magazine cutouts of young children.
This day of discovery had been in the making for years. Four years prior, police found countless child abuse images and movies on McKenzie’s computer.
"The officer that was sanitizing his property… found about 373 pictures," according to Anchorage
Correctional Complex Sgt. Ken Killian. Killian, who testified at McKenzie’s April sentencing.
Alaska Cyber Crime Prosecutor Marika Athens also questioned an Alaska Internet Crimes Against
Children (ICAC) detective on the witness stand. "Was that all the child pornography that was on the
computer?," Athens asked.
"No. I stopped at 475," the ICAC officer responded.
McKenzie pleaded guilty and is now serving additional time for the crimes, but the U.S. Justice
Department says McKenzie’s case is just one small example to illustrate the fastest growing crime in
America. The Department of Justice estimates that, since 1996, child pornography crime has increased
by 100 percent each year.
“Not 1 More Child”
Fed up with what they believe is a failure to fully fund the fight against child porn crimes, the National
Association To Protect Children, or PROTECT, has begun a nationwide public service campaign featuring
two well-known abuse victims-turned advocates demanding change.
Elizabeth Smart and Alicia Kozakiewicz are the public faces for PROTECT’s ‘Not One More Child’
campaign, which belies “calling children priceless, is just another way we can say we will not allocate any
money to protect them."
“The dollars we do not spend are the children we do not protect,” says PROTECT’s Executive Director
Grier Weeks. “We've spent almost a decade now asking elected officials, politicians, to appropriate the
proper funding to rescue these children,” Weeks claims, “and the politicians, as I'm sure is no surprise,
Weeks lobbied heavily for federal funding and eventually won over Congress with the PROTECT Our
Children Act of 2008 (‘Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our
Children Act'). Congress agreed to allocate $60 million, per fiscal year, to fund ICAC’s nationwide task
Congress, however, never fully funded the law, according to Justice Department figures obtained by
Channel 2 News.
During fiscal year 2009, Congress did appropriate $50 million, but the Justice Department only allocated
$41.5 million. During the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, $30 million was appropriated under the federal Act,
but only about $20 million went towards direct funding for ICAC taskforces.
In Alaska, the Anchorage Police Department manages the statewide ICAC taskforce. APD’s Sgt. Mike
Couturier is charged with allocating the federal pool of funds among 18 state affiliates. Couturier says the money allows him to “assist our affiliates and ourselves with grant funding that might not be available
through our municipalities or the state.”
The challenge for Couturier is also having to share a limited amount of federal funding with the nation's
other 60 task forces.
While funding has increased in recent years, ICAC’s arrest rates have decreased. Arrests have fallen
by 50 percent between 2008 and 2010, the most recent reporting year for which figures are available. In
2008, 28 arrests took place; 22 in 2009; 14 arrests in 2010.
Channel 2 News shared Alaska’s ICAC arrest statistics with PROTECT’s Executive Director. Grier Weeks
believes the numbers do not add up. “If you’ve dedicated five officers and you’re taking federal funding…
and then you say we’ve only done 14 arrests… you have a real problem,” Weeks argues.
Mapping Out The Problem
On the day ICAC spoke with Channel 2 News, Anchorage Police were actively monitoring 13 computers
online that may be in possession of child pornography.
Weeks believes police have the proof and technology to track down suspects and make arrests before
children are physically harmed. Weeks believes sophisticated mapping technology, using unique
computer serial numbers, allows investigators to gather real-world proof by forensics in order to make that
Between October of 2005 and February of 2008, the Wyoming Attorney General's Office put together
a snapshot in time. During that time period, the Wyoming office was the gatekeeper of the nation's
ICAC data. That data shows out of more than 570,000 computer serial numbers nationwide which were
trafficking child abuse images, a total of 1,418 were originating from Alaska.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tells Channel 2 News they believe that many child
pornography viewers will eventually physically molest a child. PROTECT estimates at least one in three
viewers of child pornography is a hands-on-offender with local child victims.
Using the Wyoming Attorney General’s “snapshot” combined with PROTECT’s estimate, the example
shows as many as 372 children in Alaska were at risk during this two-and-a-half year time period.
Troy McKenzie’s case provides a real-world example, multiple cases involving both sexual abuse of a
minor and possession of child pornography.
While at first glance, statistics appear alarming, Alaska’s ICAC Commander says catching offenders is not
as easy as tracking computers and breaking down doors.
Sgt. Mike Couturier argues the type of mapping data used by the Wyoming Attorney General’s office
can oftentimes be misleading. Sgt. Couturier points out multiple signals could be coming from the same
location, and in the case of IP addresses, data can constantly change.
"The fact that some places have permanent IPs, some have temporary IPs, and some have rotating IPs,
you can see things get very complex,” Couturier warns.
These complexities further complicate efforts to obtain search warrants in the attempt to prevent a
Sgt. Couturier says the law is clear, "As a country, of course, we demand proper investigations that are
factual and fact-based without bias and the evidence is there, before we go booting down doors."
In 2010, figured obtained by Channel 2 News show there were 73 search warrants issued for 14 arrests.
Alaska’s ICAC Commander believes the task force feels good about their progress, especially
considering all of the other cyber crimes and forensic investigations handled by the unit.
"That's 14 arrests locally,” Couturier points out, “so that's quite a few arrests…This isn't all we do."
PROTECT is not buying it. "The APD needs to get serious and start arresting more suspects or they need
to layoff some ICAC officers,” Weeks says. “You cannot have five dedicated officers doing 14 cases per
Weeks argues by filling in the finding gap and adding additional investigative resources, ICAC detectives
could specifically focus on preventing crimes against children.
Couturier, on the other hand, believes his resources are adequate for the task force, and he prioritizes
cases as needed. Alaska’s ICAC commander believes the key to prevention is public education.
In 2010, APD gave 120 community presentations. Officers taught parents and families topics such as
how to avoid becoming a victim, how to recognize cyber bullying, and informing parents of the dangers
PROTECT sees community presentations as a distraction and believes ICAC’s primary goal should
be protecting children from falling prey to hands-on offenders. Weeks argues APD has a reactive, not
"So, when they tell you that everything's OK, and no children are at risk, it's a lie," Weeks tells Channel 2
APD says this kind of logic is irresponsible, untrue and misrepresents the endless hours of hard work
performed by his team. "When it comes to the exploitation of children, what devil person would minimize
our ability to conduct those investigations… or fail to raise a flag if we had an inability to save our
children. I am not that person,” Couturier responds. “My investigators aren't those people."
State Of Emergency
PROTECT has appealed to the nation’s governors, including Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, to declare
a “State of Emergency,” an effort to bridge the funding gaps without necessary legislative approvals.
The family of murdered Anchorage teen Bonnie Craig has also joined the fight.
“It's very important to my family because my sister was raped and murdered,” Craig’s sister, Samantha
Campbell, tells Channel 2 News. ”If we can get the funding and resources out there, we can protect a lot
But Gov. Parnell says funding ICAC does not meet Alaska’s criteria for a "State of Emergency" due to
strict legislative limitations.
“The state law is not open to me like it is when there's a disaster, when there's a flood of a village or a
community, for example,” Parnell responds.
PROTECT argues it comes down to priorities. “We have looked at Alaska law, and what we need is some
creativity,” Weeks contends. “The governor has his own lawyers. The legislature has its own lawyers that
can find a way to make this happen,” Weeks believes.
“It's easy to pass laws and start initiatives and declare wars, but the behavior is the truth,” Weeks says. “If
you don't put men and woman on the ground to stop this, then you really haven't done much of anything.”
Parnell rejects PROTECT’s argument and says he has prioritized sexual abuse as an “epidemic” through
his ‘Choose Respect’ campaign, including strengthening laws against child porn, bolstering sentencing
guidelines and increasing funding for the protection of minors.
Lack Of Resources?
The ‘Not One More Child’ campaign was founded on the premise ICAC task forces and prosecutors
nationwide lack the necessary resources to proactively stop perpetrators before they sexually abuse a
However, Gov. Parnell, Sgt. Couturier and the State’s sole Cyber Crimes Prosecutor, Marika Athens, all
dispute that notion, arguing resources are available statewide to handle the demand.
"Prosecutors across the state also prosecute the cases,” Athens says. “I'm not the only one who
prosecutes these cases."
"If money could cure it, it would cure it,” Gov. Parnell reasons.
ICAC Alaska agrees with the Parnell. “It's always easy to say not enough is being done. It's always easy
to say throw more money at it. It's even easier to say throw more people at it,” says Sgt. Couturier, “The
fact of the matter is we have what we have. We're conducting investigations as efficiently, professionally,
and as fast as possible.”
Financing aside, PROTECT contends the root of the problem is not being adequately addressed, as
authorities spend time on public education versus full funding aimed at law enforcement. “You might
remember Sarajevo up on the mountains, and they were shooting at children as they tried to run across
the street,” Weeks explains. “When you’re in that type of crisis, you can teach parents how to cross the
street safely, that’s a good idea. But at some point, you have to go up on top of the mountain and take
care of the sniper. This is the situation we’re in. None of these excuses are acceptable in the face of
children being raped,” Weeks maintains.
If there is one point on which all parties can agree to celebrate some success, it is in the conviction rate
of internet crimes against children in Alaska. Despite arrest rates in falling by 50-percent statewide,
conviction rates remain high.
As both sides sit on either side of a major philosophical divide over how to best protect the innocent,
cyber criminals continue to lurk and Alaska’s children remain at risk.
For web extras, visit KTUU's special section for "Not 1 More Child."
Email Matthew Simon