The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recognized Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agent May 23 for his work in investigating the sexual exploitation of several children.
Special Agent Jess Thompson and other law enforcement officials from around the country were honored during the 17th Annual Congressional Breakfast and National Law Enforcement Awards, in Alexandria, Va.,for their efforts to recover missing children and resolve child sexual exploitation cases.
The event is held each year to commemorate National Missing Children's Day, which is observed May 25. It is hosted by NCMEC, in partnership with the National Fraternal Order of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The breakfast was attended by members of Congress, as well as federal, state and local officials.
"It was an honor to receive the award," Thompson said. "Without the support of my (13th Field Investigations Squadron) teammates, namely Special Agent John Fox, who obtained the subject's confession, I couldn't have achieved the success I did in this investigation."
Brig. Gen. Kevin Jacobsen, the OSI commander, and Chief Master Sgt. John Fine, the OSI command chief, were on hand to present Thompson with his NCMEC award.
"Today is a great day for Special Agent Jess Thompson, his family and OSI," Jacobsen said. "Chief Fine and I are extremely proud of Special Agent Thompson, 13th FIS and Region 5 for their efforts in bringing a child predator to justice. Staff Sgt. Joshua Smith's conviction is a testament to the severity of his crimes and the caliber of Special Agent Thompson's investigation."
Thompson, while assigned to the 13th FIS at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, investigated Staff Sgt. Joshua Smith, who was engaging in child sexual exploitation and the production of child pornography. The investigation began when a 7-year-old girl reported that the sergeant had exposed his genitals to her twice and took pornographic images of her.
When questioned by law enforcement Smith confessed to assaulting additional victims and a review of his computer revealed 137 images and 16 videos of child pornography that he had produced, along with an additional 2,846 images and 132 videos of child pornography. The thorough investigation included multiple searches, more than 100 interviews and 27 law enforcement and 18 administrative records checks in three different countries and four states.
The investigation led to additional charges for two subjects, criminal intelligence being developed on two subjects and the arrest of a fifth subject. Smith was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"I'm glad that I was able to get justice for the victims," Thompson said. "It's imperative that the Air Force tackles these investigations head on and continues to foster a proactive approach in dealing with child predators."
Each year in America, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, according to NCMEC.
"We set aside one day each year to recognize exceptional law enforcement officers who have distinguished themselves by going the extra mile to rescue children and to capture and prosecute criminals who seek to exploit them," said Ernie Allen, the NCMEC president. "Our greatest priority as a society is to protect the innocence of our children. The men and women who we honor each year share that goal and have made a real difference."
Article by James C. Dillard, Office Special Investigations Public Affairs