The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Honolulu office says its agents have been busier than ever fighting crimes against children.
On Wednesday, federal authorities arrested Kailua resident Mark Heyd, 60, for distributing child porn to a boy in Ohio.
According to special agent Tom Simon, 12 Hawaii men have been busted for crimes against children since 2014, and that doesn’t include cases of Hawaii residents getting caught in other states.
Simon says they’ve had to revamp their programs to protect keiki from sexual predators. “We are going to use everything in our legal power to stop them and put them behind bars,” he said.
Agents and analysts are split into two teams: those targeting Hawaii residents who produce and distribute child pornography, and agents focusing on adults enticing minors online.
“Unfortunately, they’re very busy. These teams are absolutely overwhelmed with perverts, for lack of better terms, here in Hawaii,” Simon said.
Simon says the team targeting residents distributing and possessing child porn is busier.
“There’s a whole other nightmare that we see in Hawaii sometimes, and that’s people who produce child pornography with children in their lives here in Hawaii,” he said. “When that happens, we really pull out all the stops to make sure that kid is safe, with our victim specialist, and also that the bad guy goes away for a really long time.”
Convicted sex offenders are required to undergo treatment.
Clinical psychologist Eric Jul says there are several stages to Hawaii’s required sex offender treatment.
“What’s your denial look like? What’s the mechanism you’re using to make this okay on your end? And some people do know it’s not okay, but there’s some who, they still do that,” Jul said. “That’s where the various levels of detention comes in. That’s where the prison system comes in.”
Meanwhile, the FBI urges parents to stay vigilant.
Authorities say there are a lot of predators pretending to be children online to gain the trust of kids they’re targeting to abuse.
“Have a pulse on the people their kids are talking on online,” Simon urged. “Kids need to understand that the strangers they meet online who claim to be children may not be children. They’re adults who are suckering them into sending photos, and once those photos are sent, it’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle.”
To report crimes against children to the FBI, call (808) 566-4300.