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Sex Offender Held in Child Porn Case Using Library's Computers

Crime: Man arrested by undercover detectives allegedly collected, distributed images on the Internet.

February 12, 1999|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — A convicted child molester who routinely used computers at the Los Angeles Central Library to collect and distribute child pornography was arrested after planning what he thought would be a sexual liaison with six youngsters--one as young as 3, police said Thursday.

Jack Hornbeck, 45, of Los Angeles, was taken into custody Wednesday by undercover detectives in a parking lot at Saticoy Street and Woodley Avenue, according to Det. Lisa Miranda of the Los Angeles Police Department's sexually exploited children unit.

His arrest culminated a two-month Internet sting operation in which he stands accused of trafficking in child pornography using computers in the main branch of the Los Angeles public library, Miranda said.

"He would go to the library as soon as it opened up and signed up to use each computer on each floor," Miranda said. "From there he maintained his Web site, while e-mailing and communicating with members of his club. He sent me as many as 300 images of child pornography."

Los Angeles Public Library spokesman Peter Persic said library officials had been cooperating with LAPD investigators, but that staff members were not involved.

"Our library staff was not involved in the undercover operation, and we did not receive any complaints from patrons who may have witnessed this person doing this," Persic said. "Fortunately, this sort of incident is isolated. But we take it very seriously."

LAPD detectives said they began looking into the case after receiving a tip from a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy.

Detectives discovered that Hornbeck, a registered sex offender, was the founder of a sex club designed for people who enjoyed "family love"--a code known by pedophiles to describe their sexual interest in children, Miranda said.

After a series of e-mail communications in which Miranda posed as a 38-year-old Van Nuys woman, she arranged to meet Hornbeck, who requested to have sex with children, Miranda said.

"Hornbeck arranged a meeting with me in order to have sex with what he thought were my three children and three children of a neighbor," Miranda said.

Responding to concerns about minors seeing pornography on the Internet, six Los Angeles branch libraries last month moved to block access to sexually oriented sites from some computer terminals in children's areas on a 90-day trial program.

"As you know, no one person or institution can control the content of the Internet," Persic said. "That's something that governments, the courts, parents and other libraries have been grappling with and will continue to do so.

"The library is vigilant about enforcing our Internet policy and cooperating with law enforcement."

Hornbeck was being held at Parker Center jail in lieu of $300,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Municipal Court early next week. More arrests are expected in the case, officers said.

Detectives said Hornbeck was convicted in 1995 for one count of oral copulation on a minor. He served several months in jail before he was released on probation.

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