Freida Curry was watching To Catch a Predator one evening in 2007 when, unbeknownst to her, her own 14-year-old daughter was on the computer down the hall corresponding with one.
"It gives me cold chills," Curry said.
A 39-year-old Greensburg man who first came in contact with Curry's daughter while posing as a 16-year-old boy on MySpace.com was sentenced in November 2008 to 10 years in prison for using a computer to entice the girl to engage in sexual activity.
Curry, of Richmond, told her story Tuesday at the U.S. Attorney's Office's annual victims' rights ceremony held in Lexington.
The office, which serves the Eastern District of Kentucky, says it worked with 1,800 victims last year — the most ever — collecting restitution for them, providing funding for social services, helping them compose statements addressing the court and notifying them of perpetrators' court appearances.
While "victims come in all shapes and sizes," many are children and older people, said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.
"Criminals tend to seek out those who are most vulnerable," he said.
Curry said the perpetrator in her daughter's case, Timothy Scott Richerson, was a youth pastor who eventually told her daughter how old he actually was, but she had developed trust in him by then.
"She thought this was the man of her dreams," Curry said.
The Herald-Leader does not generally identify victims of sexual abuse, and Curry asked that her daughter's name be withheld.
Curry said she tells the story publicly, though, in hopes that it will help other parents become more aware of the problem of child exploitation.
"Letting them have all of these gadgets, all of these toys, is not necessarily what's best," Curry said. Parents "have to be nosy."
Also at Tuesday's ceremony, the U.S. Attorney's Office honored Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Denney, who works out of Fort Mitchell, with the Danny Ray Smith Crime Victims' Rights Award. Denney works primarily with child-exploitation cases.
E.J. Walbourn, managing assistant U.S. attorney in the Fort Mitchell branch, said "it takes a special person" to do jobs like Denney's because the person must be "callous enough" to view images of child pornography and learn the details of such crimes, but they must also be "tender enough" to work compassionately with victims and their families.
In the case for which Denney was honored, Walbourn said, two children had been abused by their caregiver, who took photos of the acts.
Denney met repeatedly with the victims' parents.
Ultimately, Denney was able to secure a plea agreement, which spared the children from having to testify in court and resulted in the caregiver being sentenced to 15 years in prison.
"Jason went absolutely that extra mile," Walbourn said.