13 arrested in Internet child porn sting

A federal grand jury in California has charged 13 people with transmitting over the Internet sexually explicit photos of young girls.

A federal grand jury in San Jose, California, has charged 13 people with transmitting over the Internet sexually explicit photos of young girls. The 24 charges against the alleged members of an Internet child pornography ring include conspiracy to sexually exploit children.

Prosecuting assistant US attorney Tony West called the case "very serious and tragic", saying that while the technology itself is not to blame, people will always find ways to exploit the Internet for such base purposes.

The defendants, who allegedly belonged to a private, online child pornography group called the Orchid Club, shared photos and videos of girls aged five to 10 that they had taken themselves. According to the indictment, the men engaged in real-time photo shoots where they typed messages requesting photos of the girls in certain poses while one member shot photos with a digital camera and transmitted the photos back to the group.

Two men, Ronald Riva, 38, and Melton Myers, 55, were arrested in connection with the case in April after Monterey County sheriffs investigated a report that a young girl was molested at a sleep-over party hosted by Riva's daughter. The FBI and the US Customs Service joined the investigation when it became clear the photos were being transmitted across the Internet in the US and abroad.

The members of the club, who live in various US states and in Finland, Australia and Canada, allegedly had to know a secret password to access the photos and online chat sessions. According to the indictment, the men also had to undergo an initiation rite that required them to "recount a personal experience involving their sexual activity with a minor".

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