AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn today joined forces to support the enactment of a federal law that will help protect Texas children and enhance law enforcement’s ability to crack down on child predators. Recognizing Senator Cornyn for his successful efforts to pass the federal Child Protection Act, Attorney General Abbott said:

“Protecting Texas children from online predators and child pornographers is my top priority. With predators increasingly utilizing technology to prey upon children, it is critically important for law enforcement to gain new tools in our battle to protect Texas children. Thanks to Senator Cornyn, that battle got a little easier when the President signed the Child Protection Act today.”

“We need to provide law enforcement with every tool they need to crack down on the most vile criminals – child sex predators and traffickers – and protect the innocent young people who fall victim to these heinous crimes,” Senator Cornyn said. “I’m pleased to say this was the product of bipartisan work and wide support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, and I’m glad to see the President quickly signed this measure into law to bring greater justice and protection to victims and allow law enforcement to take immediate steps to stop child predators and traffickers in their tracks.”

Since Attorney General Abbott launched the Cyber Crimes Unit in 2003, state investigators have arrested 304 criminals for child pornography and using the Internet to prey on children. Another 1,247 child sexual predators have been arrested by the Attorney General’s Fugitive Unit, which locates and arrests convicted sex offenders who have violated parole or sex offender registration requirements. Together the Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units have arrested 1,551 child sexual predators since 2003.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice designated the Attorney General’s Office as the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for the South Texas Region, which includes 134 counties. As the home of a federally-funded ICAC Task Force, the Attorney General’s Office receives grant funding from the Justice Department for both peace officers and prosecutors. Child predators arrested by the Attorney General’s Office have been prosecuted in both state and federal courts.

A recent example of state and federal officials working together to protect children from sexual predators occurred in 2011 when, after receiving a CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Cyber Crimes Unit investigators arrested Austin resident and licensed dentist Michael McCarty on March 3, 2011, for possession of child pornography. After conducting searches at McCarty’s business and residence, Cyber Crimes Unit investigators discovered a total of 8,475 images and 121 videos of child pornography. On December 8, 2011, McCarty pled guilty to possession of child pornography in the Southern District of Texas Federal Court. U.S. District Judge Sparks sentenced McCarty to five years confinement and ordered him to surrender his dental license.