Sens. Ossoff, Blackburn Launch Bipartisan Inquiry into FBI’s Capacity to Investigate Child Sexual Abuse

Sens. Ossoff & Blackburn request data from DOJ & FBI about staffing levels of FBI field offices

This summer, DOJ acknowledged growth in online child exploitation is “outpacing” their ability to respond

Earlier this year, Sens. Ossoff & Blackburn’s bipartisan bill to protect children from exploitation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are pressing the Department of Justice to strengthen its investigations of child sexual abuse.

Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn, Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Human Rights Subcommittee, launched an inquiry with Attorney General Merrick Garland about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s capacity to investigate and respond to crimes involving child sexual abuse and exploitation.

In a June 2023 report to Congress, the DOJ cited an international threat assessment demonstrating that “the growth in online child sexual exploitation is outpacing our ability to respond.”

“Our offices have recently received reports of chronic understaffing among the FBI field office teams responsible for processing and investigating allegations of child sexual abuse,” Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn wrote to AG Garland. “These shortages reportedly force staff to manage heavy caseloads, allowing them insufficient time and resources to thoroughly investigate and respond to the numerous cases that come before them. Understaffing has, according to these reports, hindered the ability of FBI field office teams to refer cases to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agencies for further investigation.”

Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn’s inquiry also cites fallout from the Larry Nassar case, in which interviews conducted by DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General suggested that field agents’ heavy workload may have contributed to the FBI’s failures to investigative Nassar’s sexual abuse.

In June, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn’s bipartisan bill to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.

In July, Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to increase resources needed to prosecute cases involving the creation of child sex abuse material (CSAM) through artificial intelligence technology.

Earlier this year, Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to strengthen Federal protections against the sexual abuse of children, including online exploitation, passed the U.S. Senate.

Click here to read Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn’s inquiry to the DOJ.

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