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September 2, 2010

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN CONTINUES CRACK DOWN ON CHILD PORN; ANNOUNCES ARREST OF MADISON COUNTY MAN

Edwardsville — Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Madison County State’s Attorney William Mudge announced today that an Illinois Sex Offender Registry Team (ISORT) compliance check lead to the arrest of a Madison County man on child pornography charges.

Mark L. Heppner, of East Alton, was arrested Wednesday, September 1, and charged with three counts of possession of child pornography, a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Personnel with the Attorney General’s office, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Madison County Sheriff's Office and Madison County State’s Attorney’s office coordinated on the arrest.

Heppner, 59, is listed as a sexual predator on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, and was previously convicted of child pornography charges in 2003. He was sentenced to 30 months probation in that case and required to register as a sex offender.

Investigators said Heppner admitted to having child pornography when they asked for information about his home computer. A warrant for Heppner’s arrest was issued following a scan of his computer’s hard drive.

“Child pornography victimizes and destroys the lives of countless children,” said Attorney General Madigan, who also announced last week a new initiative specifically aimed at cracking down on Internet child pornographers. “We are committed to tracking and arresting these predators.”

“This office, with the help of Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the United State’s Marshall’s Office, monitors the Internet to rid it of those who use it to prey upon and exploit children. This criminal activity will not be tolerated in Madison County. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of Attorney General Madigan and the U.S. Marshall in apprehending individuals who commit crimes against children, and I look forward to bringing this man to justice,” said State’s Attorney Mudge.

Last week, Attorney General Madigan announced a new initiative to find and arrest child pornographers using unique computer identifiers – known as Internet protocol addresses (IP). In the past 30 days, more than 8,000 Illinois IP addresses were seen trading child pornography images and videos.

Heppner is the second person arrested on child pornography charges under the initiative by investigators from the Attorney General’s office. Madigan promised the arrests will continue.

“Unfortunately, child pornography is rampant in Illinois and across the country. While the Internet has allowed this horrible crime to escalate, technology also gives us the ability to combat it,” said Madigan. “We will continue arresting those who traffic in child pornography.”

Studies have shown that users of child pornography are more likely to also be sexual abusers of children. A total of 21,029 sex offenders are registered in Illinois, of which a majority committed a crime against a child.

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