Two Jersey City men and a Bayonne man were among 79 arrested in a statewide sex offender crackdown known as “Operation Safety Net,” state Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
William Esker, 22, of Bayonne, was charged on September 7th by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office with aggravated criminal sexual contact for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with a girl, 14, over whom he had direct supervision as a camp counselor.
He also is charged with providing obscene material to a child and endangering the welfare of a child, authorities said.
Additionally, Raul Rodriguez, 33, and Jonathan Latiff, 40, both from Jersey City, were both charged with possession of child pornography, while Latiff was also accused of distributing child pornography, officials said.
In a statement, Porrino explained that the arrested came as a result of a nine-month, multi-agency child protection initiative led by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Partnering agencies targeted sex offenders who exploited the internet and social media, making arrests in every New Jersey county and deploying, for the first time, a new van equipped as a mobile cyber forensics lab, as well as a new canine trained to sniff out electronic devices, to assist in execution of search warrants.
“The men we arrested lurked in the shadows of the internet and social media, looking for opportunities to sexually assault young children or to view such unspeakable assaults by sharing child pornography,” Porrino said in a prepared statement.
“We set up a wide safety net in this operation to snare these alleged predators and to protect children, which remains our highest priority. With our new mobile forensics lab and electronics-sniffing dog, we’re even better equipped to uncover the evidence that will keep these offenders behind bars, where they cannot threaten or further exploit vulnerable victims.”
Porrino also thanked the dozens of agencies who assisted with Operation Safety Net, concluding that “these cases highlight the fact that viewing child pornography is part of a continuum of deviant behavior that often leads to or drives other sex crimes.”