32 Child Pornography Suspects Commit Suicide

Jeff Berg
LONDON — Thirty-two British men arrested in the largest child-porn investigation ever conducted in the United Kingdom have committed suicide, according to statistics revealed by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The men were caught over the course of Operation Ore, the same investigation which led to the arrest of The Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

“These are very, very emotive, difficult cases to investigate and for those caught up in it the embarrassment and shame can be very high,” Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde told the Daily Mail.

“But we can’t turn a blind eye to these sort of offences,” said Hyde. “Our primary concern is the welfare of children and preventing risk to other people.”

Hyde also pointed out that the police investigations are usually conducted quietly in order to raise as little suspicion as possible among a suspect’s neighbors. Police also refer suspects to websites and hotlines to get help.

“We do ensure that, whenever possible, we treat suspects with dignity and sensitivity,” Hyde said.

Nearly 4,000 British citizens have been arrested during Operation Ore since it was started in 2002. The investigation is part of a joint effort on the part of British and U.S. law enforcement agencies, begun after the FBI discovered credit card information on 250,000 individuals who may have visited a Texas-based pay-per-view child-porn website.

After his arrest in January 2004, Townshend, who said he had been conducting research about child porn when he was caught, expressed similar sentiments as the 32 men who killed themselves.

“If I had had a gun, I would have shot myself,” Townshend said. “And if I had shot myself, it would have been awful because it would have confirmed what everybody thought.”