‘I did whatever I had to do to survive’: woman recounts Internet abduction
“When I was 13 years old, I was groomed and lured from my home by an Internet predator," Alicia Kozakiewicz says. "I did whatever I had to do to survive.”
It’s sentiments like that, that remind law enforcement officers why they’re doing the job they're doing.
Hundreds of law enforcement officials came to Green Bay Monday to learn more about Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, and how to investigate and prosecute the latest Internet crime trends.
In part, this training is made possible by Alicia’s Law, named after Alicia Kozakiewicz.
At age 13, Kozakiewicz was groomed by a predator she met online; eventually abducted from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and taken hostage in Virginia. After four days, law enforcement officers were able to track her down and rescue her.
“I knew that that was the day he was going to kill me. But that was also the day that law enforcement broke in, cut the chain from around my neck and set me free, and gave me a second chance at life,” Kozakiewicz tells Action 2 News.
Kozakiewicz calls her rescue a “miracle,” saying the ICAC Task Force is made up of real life heroes.
“They might not write comic books about you, but you're the same as the heroes that the children are growing up with who are fantasy. Only this is reality, and you're saving real kids,” she says.
She tells Action 2 News Internet crimes happen more frequently than one would expect. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your children’s internet and social media use.
“You have to pay attention to what your kids are doing,” she explains. “Yes, it's not comfortable. Yes, you may find out things about your kids that you don't want to know. Yes, they're not going to be happy with it. It doesn't matter.... It's a fact that children will be rescued."
Since her rescue, Kozakiewicz is dedicated to spreading Alicia’s Law across the country. Right now, it’s passed in 11 states. It passed in Wisconsin back in 2016.
In 2017, Wisconsin ICAC Task Force received more than 1,700 cyber tips and arrested 537 people in connection with internet crimes against children.
So far in 2018, Wisconsin ICAC Task Force has received 495 cyber tips, and arrested 119 people in connection with Internet crimes against children.
Compared to 2015, a year before the law passed in Wisconsin, Wisconsin ICAC Task Force saw only 291 arrests total.
“This amount of impressive investigative work would not have been possible if we didn't have Alicia's Law,” says Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Alicia’s Law helps to fund programs like ICAC, bringing specialized training to law enforcement officers.
“It’s real, and we have to talk about it. We have to focus on it,” Kozakiewicz says.