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Defiance College students aim to rescue child sex trafficking victims

June 15, 2015

 

DEFIANCE, Ohio – A dedicated group of Defiance College students has spent the last several months developing software that has the potential to solve thousands of missing person cases and bring human traffickers to justice. A June 24 campus presentation will demonstrate the project.

In the United States, more than 800,000 children are reported missing every year, and nearly half end up living on the streets. Seventy percent will become sex trafficking victims, most within their first 72 hours of living on the street. The Defiance College student project FAGIN (Facial Analysis to Gain Information Now) will identify and locate children being sold for sex online and aid law enforcement in bringing them to safety.

Once fully implemented, this project integrates portable code developed by DC students with existing, commercially available facial analysis technology to automatically navigate and search through web subpages to extract and compare images from online sex ads to images of missing children. In turn, this will provide probable cause and admissible evidence sufficient to trigger intervention and investigation by law enforcement.

The faculty advisor for the project is Tim Wedge, who directs Defiance College’s Digital Forensic Science (DFS) program. The goal of the program is to educate the next generation of digital forensic examiners and graduate conscientious civic stewards who can apply technological skills to solving real-world challenges facing our criminal justice system. It is one of only a very few such undergraduate programs in existence, and is believed to be the only one that places a heavy emphasis in integration with criminal justice and other related disciplines. Student volunteers on this project include DFS majors Martin Bush, Defiance; Ashley Wilson, Wauseon; and Zach Roush, Nashville, IN as well as Criminal Justice majors Chelsea Bell, Walbridge, and Jennifer Wedge, Defiance.

A live, proof-of-concept demonstration of the project is being held at 10 a.m., on Wednesday,June 24, in Schomburg Auditorium at Defiance College. The public is invited and highly encouraged to attend. For further information, contact Tim Wedge at twedge@defiance.edu.

Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is www.defiance.edu.