Suspect arrested on suspicion of distributing child pornography

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department arrested Joel Florence at his home.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department arrested a Columbia man on suspicion of distributing child pornography through a file-sharing program from his home computer network.

A Boone County Detective from the Cyber Crimes Task Force found four videos that showed sexual molestation of pre-pubescent children. Police arrested 26-year-old Joel W. Florence of Columbia on suspicion of the possession of child pornography.

“In the law enforcement side of it, we have tools that are designed to monitor this kind of behavior,” Detective Tracy Perkins said. “There’s software that we utilize in the law enforcement fields that are used to stop the exploitation of children.”

The Cyber Crimes Task Force identified the home computer network responsible for disseminating child pornography Jan. 31. The Boone County Sheriff’s Department, MU Police Department and the FBI served a court-ordered search warrant Thursday at the residence in question. Investigators also located a computer containing numerous videos depicting the sexual molestation of pre-pubescent children.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force has been operating since January 2007.

“The unit is established around the exploitation of children," Perkins said. “Anything that exploits children -- we will deal with that type of behavior.”

The Cyber Crimes Task Force also deals with crimes like cyber bullying and harassment on social networking websites, and aims to create awareness among the community about the dangers of the Internet.

Although police arrested one person involved in the distribution of child pornography, Perkins said it is impossible to remove completely.

“I call it the revolving door,” Perkins said in reference to how widespread file sharing programs can be. “You can’t stop it. We are just taking one person out of the equation. There’s no way to stop this behavior.”

Florence is in the Boone County Jail awaiting the filing of formal charges by the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

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