ORLANDO, Fla. – A video of a man committing a sex act on a 6- year old girl has been shared by thousands of well-intentioned Facebook users via the Facebook Messenger app from across the country to Orlando, Florida.
Sgt. Tami Edwards, of the Orlando Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, told WKMG-TV Monday that at least 50 residents in the Orlando area have reported receiving the video clip or a screenshot of the video since last Thursday.
“It’s picked up viral status on social media and people are blindly sharing it in the interest of trying to identify the suspect and the child,” Edwards said.
Edwards, a member of ICAC, Internet Crimes Against Children, said the video first emerged in August of 2017.
According to Edwards, an agency in another jurisdiction is leading the investigation, but it’s not clear if a suspect has been identified.
“It’s a nationwide epidemic now, “ Edwards told News 6. “We don’t know how the video originated on Facebook Messenger and other social media apps, we know the caption was to share.”
Some reports suggest the video may have originated in Alabama, but it’s not known if the young victim has identified the man she was with or what their relationship was.
Investigators said it’s impossible to tell where the man and girl were when the video was taken.
“It’s outside the state of Florida, so, therefore, we are comfortable saying the victim and the suspect are not currently in Orlando and it did not originate here,” Edwards said.
Facebook advises those who see images or videos of a child being sexually exploited to do the following:
It is a federal offense to send or possess child pornography, as well as a state offense in Florida.
If you have information in this case you are asked to call Internet Crimes Against Children at 1-800-843-567.
Internet Crimes Against Children is a task-force started by the United States Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 1998.
According to its web site, ICAC is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.