Ventura County Sheriff – Incident Press Release
In September of 2019, the City of Thousand Oaks Police Department Major Crimes Sexual Assault Unit received a CyberTip from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force related to the distribution of child pornography in the City of Thousand Oaks via the internet. The CyberTip was generated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The CyberTip indicated the social media application Discord, had discovered what they believed to be a video depicting child pornography within a user’s account. Discord is a social media platform in which people can talk with friends or communities via voice, video, or text messaging. Discord and all social media platforms are required by federal law to review and report all incidents of suspected child pornography to NCMEC, who then sends the CyberTip to the ICAC Task Force for investigation.
The investigation into the CyberTip included several search warrants and the seizing of computers and other electronic devices from Alexander Culbert and Joshua Betancourt’s residence in the City of Thousand Oaks. The seized electronics were examined by the Southern California High Technology Task Force. The examination revealed numerous images of child pornography.
In September of 2020, the City of Thousand Oaks Police Department concluded their investigation and presented the case to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for filing considerations. On October 28, 2020, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office filed the following charges against both Alexander Culbert and Joshua Betancourt: 311.11(c)(1) PC and 311.11(a) PC – Possession or control of matter depicting minor engaging in or simulating sexual conduct.
On October 28, 2020, arrest warrants were issued for both Culbert and Betancourt. On November 3, 2020, Culbert and Betancourt appeared in court with their attorney and were later booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Both Culbert and Betancourt are currently released on $50,000 bail, their next scheduled court date is December 2, 2020 at 1:30 PM.
NCMEC was incorporated in 1984 by child advocates as a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to serve as a national clearinghouse and resource center for families, victims, private organizations, law enforcement, and the public on incidents of missing and sexually exploited child. To further their mission to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent future victimization, NCMEC operates the CyberTip line and Child Victim Identification Program. NCMEC makes information submitted to the CyberTip line and Child Victim Identification Program available to law enforcement and also uses this information to help identify trends and create child safety and prevention messages. As a clearinghouse, NCMEC also works with Electronic Service Providers, law enforcement and the public in a combined effort to reduce online child sexual abuse images. NCMEC performs its programs of work pursuant to its own private mission and independent business operations. NCMEC does not act in the capacity of or under the direction or control of the government or law enforcement agencies. NCMEC does not investigate and cannot verify the accuracy of the information submitted by reporting parties.
In 2008, Congress enacted the “Protect our Children Act”. As a result, the National Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC Task Force) was created. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet and other technology, the proliferation of child sexual abuse images available electronically, and the heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with potential underage victims. This task force consists of a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing more than 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic examinations, and criminal prosecutions. The task force is dedicated to developing effective responses to online enticement of children by sexual predators, child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography cases.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is an active and proud member of the ICAC Task Force.