Police found abuse being broadcast live


EARLIER this summer US police captured 13 paedophiles who were videotaping the sexual of young girls and broadcasting it live on the Internet.

The case emerged as a result of a routine allegation of child abuse by the mother of a 10-year-old girl in a southern California farming community in June.

The complaint was made against Mr Ronald Riva (38), an unemployed truck driver, former prison officer and father of four young children.

The girl who told her parents that she had been abused had stayed overnight in Mr Riva's house during a slumber party for his eight-year-old daughter.

Local detectives discovered that Mr Riva's house contained equipment capable of staging live "photo-shoots" on the Internet. Computer files containing paedophile pornography were also recovered.

Shortly afterwards they arrested another southern Californian, Mr Melt on Lee Myers (55), who also had equipment capable of broadcasting digital video pictures of children through the Internet. The FBI and US Customs authorities were called in.

It emerged that the two were part of a group, including members from the United States, Finland, Australia and Canada, who were abusing children as young as five and broadcasting pictures live through the Internet.

The process used is similar to video conferencing. The 16 members of the ring called themselves the Orchid Club and their activities have spread alarm through police forces seeking to detect paedophiles.

Only one or two members of the ring had previously come to police notice. The police were also acutely aware that the discovery of the video/Internet paedophile ring had not come about through any high-tech scanning but through a routine complaint investigated by local police officers.

The 16 men were known to each other on the Internet by their nicknames Tootuff, Pobear, Smirk and Macphisto.

Macphisto is believed to be a European, possibly Danish, and has not yet been traced. His nickname still appears in paedophile channels on the Internet.

According to the California State indictment, the Orchid Club members found in the Internet a "secret and safe environment" to trade child pornography.

Their activities included the videotaping of a five-year-old girl somewhere in the mid-western states of America. At least 11 men had watched the child being abused live on the internet.

During the session they had sent requests to the man abusing the child detailing what form of abuse they wished to see.

The indictment says the men used an "Internet chat room in which Orchid Club members allowed themselves to engage in immediate, real-time dialogue through typed messages. In addition, through the use of a digital camera connected to an individual computer, a member could instantly produce and immediately transmit from his location still or motion pictures.

"Individuals seeking to become Orchid Club members were nominated by an existing member and then elected by the membership. As an initiation rite, new members would recount a personal experience involving their sexual activity with a minor."

The 13 are awaiting trial.