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Seigfried-Spellar said CATT could be handling data from active cases as early as the end of the year.
The conversation analysis provides the basis for future law enforcement tools as well, she said.
“What if there is a chat online and you don’t know if you’re chatting with an offender or someone who is 15 years old pretending to be 30,” she said.
This digital forensic tool conducts a language-based analysis to determine the likelihood that the offender is contact-driven vs. It is their hope that this tool will assist law enforcement authorities by enabling them to allocate their limited resources to cases at high risk for contact-driven offenses.“Meaning that we could potentially stop a sex offense from occurring because if law enforcement is notified of a suspicious chat quickly enough, CATT can analyze and offer the probability of a face-to-face,” she said.“We could potentially prevent a child from being sexually assaulted.” Seigfried-Spellar worked in developing CATT with two co-principal investigators, associate professor Julia Taylor Rayz, who specializes in machine learning and natural language processing, and computer and information technology department head Marcus Rogers, who has an extensive background in digital forensics tool development.Investigating crimes against children, specifically sexual solicitations, are complicated because not all offenders are contact-driven, meaning they want to meet the minor for sex in the physical world; instead, some offenders are fantasy-driven, in that they are more interested in cybersex and less interested in meeting the minor in the physical world.Thus, the sheer volume of sexual solicitations online makes it difficult for law enforcement to determine whether an offender is contact-driven vs. In order to assist law enforcement with their ability to prioritize cases in which the offender is more likely to be contact-driven, Seigfried-Spellar and colleagues (2017) identified language-based differences in the online chats between minors and arrested contact-driven and fantasy-driven offenders.