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Child sexual exploitation is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. In the fall of 2017, police in Glastonbury, Connecticut, faced a massive challenge in when they were faced with having to sort and analyze a mountain of data from more than 50 devices to link their suspect to a child that was allegedly being sexually exploited.
By Mark Gambill, EVP, Cellebrite
At the outset of the child exploitation investigation in Glastonbury, Lieutenant Corey Davis was the Digital Forensics and Investigations Supervisor for the Connecticut Center For Digital Investigations (CDI). His job was to oversee the digital forensics for the investigation. When it was alleged that a minor was involved, Lt. Davis immediately sought assistance from federal authorities. After obtaining a search warrant, federal agents and Lt. Davis’s own officers searched the home of 63-year-old James Ripberger. What they found was astonishing.
An online article by Alex Wood published by the Journal Inquirer quotes Prosecutor Nancy V. Gifford’s sentencing memo as saying that Glastonbury police and federal agents discovered “a very large collection of child pornography on electronic devices, including 2,231 pornographic pictures and 20 videos.”
Police needed to quickly isolate the devices that had child-related matter on them then find data that directly linked the suspect to the victim in an efficient and forensically sound manner.
Lt. Davis reached out to a list of service providers asking the broader digital forensics community about potential technology vendors his department could work with for image recognition software that would identify evidence involving the victim. Lt. Davis was contacted by a representative from Cellebrite who put him in touch with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
NCMEC’s partnership with Cellebrite allowed Lt. Davis’ team the means to work directly with Cellebrite’s digital intelligence experts.
A technical team from Cellebrite, including R&D engineers, flew to Glastonbury to assist Lt.
Davis in setting up the proper digital intelligence solutions to begin sorting through the 50 devices seized from Ripberger’s home. It was eventually determined that these devices contained more than 35 TB of data.
Investigative analytics and AI were used to narrow the number of relevant devices, enabling Lt. Davis’s team to find images of child exploitation that weren’t in the standard hash sets Glastonbury PD normally uses to parse data.
By using Cellebrite's investigative analytics solution, investigators were able to identify highly inappropriate images—some were child-exploitative and a few that were Category 1 abuse.
The investigation, which eventually involved assistance from NCMEC, Homeland Security Investigations, the Glastonbury Police Department, and the Connecticut Center for Digital Investigations, led to the indictment of James Ripberger in December of 2017.
Following his trial, James Ripberger was sentenced to 150 months (12 ½ years) in prison for receiving child pornography followed by 10 years of supervised release. A state case against him is still ongoing.
Solving this case took teamwork, collaboration, and the right tools and training to find the evidence needed to put a suspected sexual predator behind bars. But by partnering with NCMEC and Cellebrite, Lt. Davis and his team were able to save the child involved from further exploitation and keep other children in their community safe from harm.
To see how other agencies around the world are harnessing the power of Cellebrite technology to make our world a safer place, click here.
About the Author: Mark Gambill oversees Cellebrite’s global marketing operations, including product marketing, advertising, promotions, analyst and public relations, field marketing, brand management and corporate events. Mark has over 20 years of executive marketing experience across a diverse set of technology sectors with concentrations in Big Data, AI, Machine Learning and Augmented Analytics.
Prior to joining Cellebrite, he served as the CMO at MicroStrategy, prior to that role, he served as the CMO for Vocus, a global provider of marketing automation software. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and has completed graduate work at INSEAD.
This content is made possible by our sponsor Cellebrite; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Route Fifty's editorial staff.
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