Raleigh, N.C. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested a suspected child predator early Thursday morning in Raleigh after a tip following a publicity campaign.
46-year-old William Akers is in federal custody facing child pornography charges after a public outreach campaign by HSI to identify an unknown man captured on video sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl.
The plea for public assistance was disseminated by dozens of media outlets, reached more than 1.6 million people on Facebook and Twitter and generated more than 80 leads to the HSI tip line.
“I am grateful for the American public’s quick action in response to our appeal for help,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “Within hours of our request for assistance, more than a million people took notice and started spreading the word on social media and in the press. Because of this incredible support, we were able to identify and arrest a man accused of grossly violating an innocent child.”
“I am thankful that this suspect was so quickly apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations agents working under the Operation Predator international initiative after the incredible cooperation of the general public,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker. “My office will prosecute those who prey upon our children to the fullest extent of the law.”
Akers was identified by a member of the public who told investigators that he was employed in the Information Technology department of a Raleigh company. Within hours of the tip, HSI Raleigh special agents confirmed that Akers was indeed the John Doe who appeared in the video and arrested him at approximately 1 a.m. Thursday while he was working the night shift at his company.
The arrest was part of a joint investigation by HSI and the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Raleigh Police Department.
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. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
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.