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Actor seeks $1B to fight child porn

WASHINGTON — Knoxville actor David Keith and a child protection group today urged Congress to spend $1 billion more to find and prosecute child predators and attack those profiting from child porn.

Keith, speaking at the National Press Building, said it was “shameful” that Congress and the federal government have not done more to stop one of the top problems in the country.

Less than $100 million a year now is dedicated at the federal level to crack down on child predators and the production, distribution and sales of child porn, said Grier Weeks, executive director of the nonpartisan National Association to Protect Children. (www.protect.org) Federal agencies have given only rough estimates of their current dedicated spending, he said, but told supporters of the association that $1 billion extra per year would have a big impact on those sexually abusing children.

The association has members in all 50 states, but is most active in 12, including Tennessee.

The association and Keith said they will send written pledge forms to all members of Congress and their challengers and ask them to sign it to show they favor spending the extra $1 billion a year for 2,000 new federal agents, 1,000 new state and local agents, 20 new crime labs dealing with crimes against children and 279 new federal prosecutors.

Those who sign or don’t sign the form — Democrat or Republican — will be identified on a national report card publicized before the Nov. 7 election, Keith said.

The group is asking for the $1 billion now because it is an election period and Congress is reorganizing its page program in light of disclosures that one member of Congress, Mark Foley, R-Fla., allegedly contacted former teenaged male pages, made sexual comments to them and met with them.

Keith is an avid supporter of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis, but he said child protection is a nonpartisan issue and he hopes for much support on the pledge from both parties before the election.

The group also wants to go after the child porn industry just as Congress did recently in making it illegal for credit card companies to handle Internet gambling payments of U.S. residents. Taking away the profit from child porn will help shut down the industry, Weeks said.

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