May 15, 2013 6:30 PM by MELISSA CANONE
LAFAYETTE, La. - United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley is proud to announce today that the U.S. Justice Department has recognized Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) John Luke Walker for his exemplary efforts to protect children.
AUSA Walker is the recipient of the Child Protection Award at the annual National Missing Children's Day commemoration held in Washington, D.C. today. The award recognizes the extraordinary efforts of citizens and law enforcement officers who have made a significant investigative or program contribution to protecting children from abuse or victimization. Walker is one of nine citizens and law enforcement officers from Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina and Washington state to receive the award.
Walker serves as the Western District of Louisiana's Project Safe Childhood Coordinator. He was the lead prosecutor and a driving force behind Operation Delego, the largest child exploitation case ever prosecuted by the Department. To date, his efforts have resulted in 44 convictions of Operation Delego targets. The defendants included a teacher, police officer and a member of the military. The convictions resulted in sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment and helped to successfully dismantle a network of individuals whose main objective was the
production of hardcore child pornography involving children under the age of 12.
Overseas child sex rings and commercial child pornography production rings were also dismantled as part of Operation Delego. As a result of Operation Delego, at least three child victims in the United States were identified.
In addition to his significant contributions during the prosecution of Operation Delego, Walker carries a full caseload of various other cases. Walker also teaches children and parents throughout the Western District of Louisiana about the dangers of online activity through Internet Safety presentations. During 2012, he provided more than 25 presentations and reached approximately 3,000 children and 500 adults.
"AUSA Walker is a committed lawyer, but it is his tireless work and dedication to the children of this community that led to his being named as a recipient of this award," Finley stated. "Walker is most deserving of this recognition. Still, no one does any of this difficult work alone. He has a wonderful assistant, and outstanding state and local officers and federal agents who assist in these difficult cases. A special thank you goes out to all of them. The Western District of Louisiana is committed to protecting children from exploitation and abuse."
Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children's Day to remember Etan Patz, a six-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. Missing Children's Day honors his memory and the memories of children still missing.
Project Safe Childhood is a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.