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Child Exploitation

Kansas City ICE agent honored for combating child exploitation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Special Agent James "JD" Kanatzar, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), was presented the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award Thursday for his outstanding service to crime victims. The award was presented by Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

The award ceremony April 14 was part of an annual event hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office and VictimNet, a coalition of victim service providers and others committed to meeting the needs of crime victims in Jackson County, Mo. It was presented in conjunction with the observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. This year's theme, "Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past," recognizes that every day, crime victims bravely face the task of reshaping their lives after they're victimized. It also highlights the importance of honoring the victims, victim advocates, and criminal justice professionals who have fought for heightened awareness of victims' issues and have secured increased participation of victims in the criminal justice process.

"We are committed to providing victims of crime with the support they need and the justice they deserve," Phillips said. "It's important that the voices of victims be heard. Agent Kanatzar has dedicated his career to insuring that the voices of victims are not only heard, but that their cases are thoroughly investigated. Time and time again, Agent Kanatzar has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that justice is done. Agent Kanatzar's work has resulted in countless victims saved, and countless more children who will never become victims."

The event took place at the KC Live Stage in the Power and Light District, and included a showcase of various local victim service providers, a performance by the Operation Breakthrough Children's Choir, the Kansas City Mounted Patrol, and several survivors of crime who shared their stories.

The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award is presented by the U.S. Attorney's Office each year to recognize the outstanding work of an individual or organization in protecting children from exploitation. The award was presented to Kanatzar in memory of Crystal Kipper and Ali Kemp, two young women who were both fatal victims of tragic crimes. The parents of Kipper and Kemp participated in the award presentation.

Kanatzar has been involved in more than 100 child pornography/distribution cases, and has assisted in numerous others. Kanatzar most recently has been instrumental in the arrest and successful prosecution of two individuals involved in producing child pornography, in addition to five others throughout his career.

Kanatzar has been an unfailing advocate for the victims of these horrific crimes, and on a daily basis he dedicates his life to ensuring that those responsible are put behind bars. His work is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

Kanatzar joined the U.S. Customs Service in 1989 as a special agent in Kansas City, Mo. For the first seven years of his career, Kanatzar worked on the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) task force with other federal, state, and local agencies investigating narcotics-related crimes. Kanatzar then switched to investigating child exploitation crimes, where he has excelled both as a case agent and as a computer forensics examiner. After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2003, Kanatzar continued to develop excellent cases against individuals involved with exploiting children.

The Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), enacted in 2004, grants victims in federal criminal proceedings certain enforceable rights, including the right to be reasonably heard at public court proceedings and to receive full and timely restitution as provided by law. The U.S. Attorney's Office has a dedicated Victim/Witness Unit that serves federal crime victims across the district's 66 counties. Members of this unit notify victims of significant case events through the Department of Justice's Victim Notification System (VNS). Such notice enables victims to participate in court proceedings and make their voices heard. Victim/Witness personnel accompany victims to court hearings and trials to ensure that victim participation in court proceedings is meaningful, and to answer questions and explain the federal judicial process.

In addition, the Victim/Witness Unit provides essential services to victims, such as making referrals for counseling, securing temporary housing, assisting with access to victim compensation funds, and accompanying victims to court to provide support and guidance during the proceedings. These services provide tools victims need to reshape their futures.

Further information about National Crime Victims' Rights Week is available at http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw.

The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award

Crystal Kipper was an 18-year-old Gladstone, Mo., resident who was murdered after her car broke down on Interstate 29, just north of Platte City, on Feb. 24, 1997. Ali Kemp was a 19-year-old Blue Valley North High School graduate who was murdered on June 18, 2002 while she worked at the Foxborough neighborhood swimming pool in Leawood, Kan.