An Anchorage DJ is charged with five felony counts related to child pornography. The case highlights Alaska law enforcement’s push to keep up with cyber crimes in a rapidly evolving digital environment.
At a pre-trial arraignment Friday in Anchorage, James Laplante, who goes by “Jimmy O’Brien” on his KASH 107.5 FM morning show, a judge reviewed charges connected with possession and distribution of sexually explicit images, as well as enticement of a minor.
According to charging documents filed by the State Department of Law, officers with the Anchorage Police Department’s Cyber Crimes division received two tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about possible activity in the Anchorage area. Following the reports, APD eventually requested warrants to search online services Instagram, Gmail, and KIK–a messenger app–connected to Laplante, as well as IP addresses registered with both his home and work. The state District Attorney’s Office claims more than 1,000 explicit images were also found on an external hard-drive, and that during an interview with law enforcement after his DJ shift, Laplante admitted to storing images on his iPhone 6 Plus and work computer.
In the last 15 years the department’s cyber crimes division has had to become more proactive, said Glen Klinkhart, a retired Anchorage detective who now runs a digital consulting firm.
“APD started leading the forefront here in Alaska to go out there and do these cases,” Klinkhart explained, “whether it’s file sharing of child pornography, or online enticement .”
Finding evidence in online trafficking cases is time consuming. Encryption and constantly changing distribution practices make child pornography a moving target for officials to combat. And given the number of crimes against minors in Alaska, agencies have had to be strategic in picking where and how to intervene.
“We have a terrible amount of child abuse in the state,” said Klinkhart. “You mix that with technology, and it’s not uncommon that we have so many of these particular cases that come up. It’s a mile wide and a mile deep, and we can only work so much. It’s a target-rich environment, is what we say.”
Bail was set at $25,000 for Laplante, along with conditions that he have no contact with any juveniles or use any device that can connect to the internet. His next court appearance is on Tuesday in Anchorage.