FBI: Child predators lurk online

Series of sex arrests with child victims in Jacksonville area recently

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Elizabeth Berry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A series of sex arrests with child victims has been seemingly constant in the Jacksonville area in recent days. The arrests range from child pornography involving babies to a huge sweep of alleged predators by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Michelle Klimt, special agent in charge of Jacksonville's FBI office, told Channel 4 that online predators can come from anywhere.

Klimt said online predators can be across the state, across the country or on the other side of the world and they are searching for children.

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Klimt said she cannot comment on specific cases and recent arrests, but told Channel 4 there's a growing problem with predators.

"It's real easy to hide behind a computer keyboard, it's hard to find them. We will find them but it's very easy to exploit the children and the child doesn't know who they're talking to," said Klimt.

Sheriff John Rutherford warned parents Friday during media briefing that if a child is online, it's 100 percent certain that a predator has either contacted a child or that there is one following them online. The statement didn't surprise Klimt.

"No, I'm not, He is 100 percent correct on that," said Klimt.

In the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrests, the men came from various backgrounds, including military. There was also an arrest in Baker County this week, where a DOC Corrections officer was arrested for impregnating a 15-year-old girl.

Agent Klimt said it's imperative parents are monitoring who their kids are talking to in person or online.

"Parents need to be aware when children are online they need to know what exactly they're doing. They need to be monitoring, they should not be alone in their rooms on the Internet, that's where the children are most vulnerable," said Klimt.

Tips for parents can be found on FBI's website here.

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