Photographs of girls outside in their Eagan neighborhood were taken without their knowledge, posted online and then attracted sexually oriented comments on a photo-sharing website, and police said Thursday they have identified a suspect.
Detective Desiree Schroepfer said that no children have been harmed, and "none of the images are pornographic in nature."
However, Schroepfer continued, "The concerns that law enforcement have were with the photo-sharing site that they were uploaded to and the comments that followed the photographs. The comments were sexual in nature."
Schroepfer said the photos of the fully clothed children have been removed from the website. The suspect, who lives in Eagan, according to police, has not been arrested.
Police said the man acknowledged posting the images, confirmed many were obtained in the Country Hollow neighborhood and has been cooperating with investigators.
"It is important to note there has been no inappropriate/physical contact between the resident and the children depicted in the photographs," said a statement Thursday from police.
Police said they will forward their case to prosecutors for consideration of charges once their investigation is complete.
Police first learned of the photos and accompanying website comments on Aug. 18 from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which came upon the images while investigating an unrelated case.
Michael Brodkorb, who disclosed the issue Wednesday on a blog he writes for the Star Tribune that typically focuses on politics, said a police detective visited his home last week and explained that the photo-sharing site where the pictures were posted "is in essence a breeding ground for sexual predators." He added that the detective showed him five or six photos. A couple were taken out the window of a home in the neighborhood. "I could tell where on my street those pictures were taken," he said.
Some of them were of children waiting for the school bus or at a park as they faced away from the camera, Brodkorb said. He added that some of the photos were taken quite a while ago, while others were snapped more recently.