WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Trumbull County grand jury indicted four men on Thursday accused of sex crimes against children.
Rick Benchea, 61, is facing 12 counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition against a minor female.
David Messer, 28, is charged with one count of child pornography and one count of pandering obscenity after police said he took sexually explicit photos of an 8-year-old girl.
David Gadd, 29, was indicted on three counts each of rape and gross sexual imposition after police said he assaulted three young girls.
Donald Rush, 68, was indicted on two counts of gross sexual imposition.
Officials said they are seeing more cases like this because of technology. And in many of the cases, a relative or friend reported them.
“These pedophiles are known to save and hoard images of their acts and their victims, so a third party might come across their cell phone, their iPhone, iPad or their computer might be taken in for service and they are seeing these images and even if they are a spouse or a loved one, they are turning them in because it is so offensive,” Niles Police Capt. Ken Criswell said.
Criswell said technology and Internet surveillance in chat rooms across the country is helping to catch these predators.
“They call these guys travelers that will actually travel the country to meet people. So there are many ways they are being caught and in the end, they are going to be caught,” Criswell said.
Mahoning County Children’s Services Board said its up to parents to educate their children about child abuse.
“People raise their kids in bubbles. They are afraid to talk about it so I think that is the biggest thing is to prevent and educate kids. I don’t think parents know how to do that,” Mahoning County CSB abuse unit case worker Denise Altomare said.
For the victims, some children experience a lifetime of issues.
“Some kids, it turns into behaviors in school, them touching other kids, so it’s hard to tell. It’s a case by case situation, but there are kids that can overcome it and it’s great to see that,” Altomare said.
Anyone who suspects child abuse is urged to contact their local Children’s Services agency so they can investigate.