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Kidnapped at 13, woman testifies in support of funding for internet task force


Alicia Kozakiewicz speaks at a news conference about Alicia’s Law in Concord on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

By Dave Solomon State House Bureau

CONCORD — A woman who was held for four days chained in a basement dungeon by a sadistic sexual predator joined New Hampshire lawmakers in appealing to the Legislature and the public for support of Alicia's Law, which would appropriate $250,000 to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Alicia Kozakiewicz, now 28, was 13 when she was kidnapped.

“I was groomed and lured from my Pittsburgh home by a predator who held me captive in Virginia, where I was raped and beaten and tortured,” she said in an interview before a news conference in the Legislative Office Building.

“But thankfully and miraculously I was rescued. After a period of healing, and at the age of 14, I started to speak out about my situation and work to save other children and families.”

Kozakiewicz travels the country in support of the Alicia Project, which supports funding in the battle over internet crimes against children.

She was in New Hampshire to testify on behalf of bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate to appropriate $250,000 in state funds for the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The $250,000 state appropriation each year of the two-year budget would be matched by federal funds, increasing task force funding by $500,000 each year. The task force is currently funded with a $265,000 grant from the Department of Justice.

“This would enable the task force to do highly technical and sophisticated work, to have the hardware and software they need to track down crimes against children that are occurring on the internet,” said State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Kozakiewicz said it was a miracle that she was saved.

“He was sharing my degradation and abuse online,” she said. “Someone saw this and came forward to law enforcement. It was a total and absolute miracle. Every child deserves that miracle. Every child deserves to be given a second chance at life.”

Kozakiewicz pointed to a map of northern New England with 2,700 red dots that mark the general locations of computers police believe are being used to upload or download child pornography.

“Fifty-five percent of these dots are hands-on predators, meaning real children right now are being hurt as I was … real children who need to be rescued,” she said.

The New Hampshire task force has been in place for nearly 20 years, said Portsmouth Police Chief David Mara, formerly of Manchester, but it could do much more with the additional funding, including training new officers and acquiring new equipment.

“I have had the opportunity to look at some of these images,” he said, “and it is pure evil.”

If the bills pass, New Hampshire would become the 13th state to adopt Alicia’s Law and have a dedicated funding stream to combat internet crimes against children.

Kozakiewicz described the officers who monitor the internet and do the tough work of the task force as “super heroes.”

“This is so much more than a job to them,” she said. “This is personal. But they don’t have the resources they need to go out and save these children, and that’s what Alicia’s Law provides.

“It provides a cape for our super heroes, because that’s what they are. The law enforcement agents who rescued me are my angels. They saved my life and gave me a second chance. Every child deserves that chance.”

dsolomon@unionleader.com

Full story: http://www.unionleader.com/state-government/Kidnapped-at-13-woman-testifies-in-support-of-funding-for-internet-task-force-02012017

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