I came to Richmond Tuesday and heard highly disturbing news that the budget conferees had retreated from supporting critically needed investments in Alicias Law. This legislation is designed to expand our regional Internet Crimes against Children Task Forces (ICAC) so we can arrest, prosecute and convict online child sex predators.
There are over 20,000 Virginians that we know are trafficking in hardcore online child pornography. These are not merely innocent images. These are hardcore pictures and videos of children as young as 18 months being brutally raped. There is no more vile, heinous act. But, unfortunately, law enforcement does not have the resources to investigate these leads, catch these criminals, and rescue these children. So we came to the General Assembly for help.
I would be remiss if I did not thank the House Appropriations Committee for making an investment of $1.25 million in their proposed budget. Unfortunately, I was told today that the current draft conference report does not include these funds to which all sides have publically pledged their support. The funds proposed in the House budget for ICAC would double their capacity to investigate and arrest child offenders and double their ability to rescue child victims.
So Im asking to ensure the funds for this important initiative. There are myriad demands and interests to balance; but I truly do not believe that the values we bring to the General Assembly or any of us bring to our life in public service are well served if we fail to find these critically needed funds.
Every time you bring a computer into the home, you provide these online predators access to your children. As a former prosecutor, I know our law enforcement must have the tools to combat these criminals and as the father of two young children, I know there is no more important investment to make.
I hope to return to Richmond with different news than what I heard today. When we return to Richmond, I hope we will have a conference report that honors our public commitment and moral responsibility to protect children. In a budget of over $77 billion dollars, I find it inconceivable that we could not find the first $1.25 million to take the next step in protecting our kids.
As you know, this initiative is named after Alicia Kozakiewicz. At age 13, Alicia was the victim of an online child sex predator in Northern Virginia who tortured her for 4 days. Fortunately, she was rescued by the Northern Virginia ICAC officers. With your help, more children like her can be rescued.
Brian Moran is Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a delegate representing Alexandria City and Fairfax County. He is a member of the Virginia Crime Commission and former Arlington County Prosecutor. Last year, Moran was named Child Advocate of the Year by the Virginia PTA.