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Child Exploitation

Kids' dance contest emcee charged with federal child pornography offense

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A 33-year-old Long Beach man who emceed children's dance contests nationwide is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Monday following his arrest on a federal child pornography charge.

Paul Michael Barbour, who worked for Cypress-based Kids Artistic Review (KAR), fell under suspicion late last month after a digital video camera belonging to the defendant was discovered in a dressing room used by teenage girls taking part in a dance contest at Cypress College. Barbour was originally taken into custody June 1 by detectives with the Cypress Police Department on state charges filed by the Orange County District Attorney's Office accusing him of possession of child pornography and possession of a controlled substance.

On June 26, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California filed a criminal complaint against Barbour charging him with possession of child pornography. The violation carries a possible penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison, more than the maximum seven-year term provided for under state law. The Orange County District Attorney agreed to dismiss the existing state charges to facilitate the federal prosecution and Barbour was remanded to federal custody Friday afternoon. The District Attorney's Office noted, however, that if the probe leads to the identification of any Orange County victims, new state charges may be lodged.

"This case represents another stellar example of how federal and local authorities are using their respective authorities and expertise strategically to target those involved in the online sexual exploitation of innocent children," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "Every time a sexually explicit image of a child is downloaded, that victim is violated yet again."

The charges against Barbour are the result of a probe by the Cypress Police Department and members of the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force (OCCETF), including special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). As part of the investigation, authorities executed a search warrant at Barbour's Long Beach residence, seizing a desktop computer. A forensic analysis of that computer resulted in the recovery of several thousand images and 10 videos containing children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Investigators emphasize there is no evidence at this point indicating the defendant produced any of the material. However, the probe is ongoing and investigators urge anyone who may have information relevant to the case to call the Cypress Police Department at 714-229-3391 or contact the task force at occetf@ice.dhs.gov.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.