Sex Offender's Notes Hint at Thousands of Victims

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Police in San Jose, Calif., searched the home of a convicted sex offender and discovered records allegedly detailing the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children. Alex Chadwick talks to San Jose Police Lt. Scott Cornfield about the discovery and the suspect's arrest.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From NPR West and Slate Magazine online, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, community fears about sex offenders and what experts say about protecting children.

We begin with this story from San Jose, California. Police searching the home a convicted sex offender have uncovered meticulous records he kept of children and apparent victims of his abuse. There are more than 36,000 entries, including children from other states and possibly other countries. Police have arrested Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, age 63. They extradited him about 10 days ago from Washington state on seven charges of child molestation. He has a long record of previous sexual offenses. Earlier, I spoke with Lieutenant Scott Cornfield of the San Jose Police Department's sexual investigation unit. He's part of the investigation.

Lieutenant SCOTT CORNFIELD (San Jose Police Department): We found several computers. We found a six-foot computer server. We found volumes of child pornography in binders and, really, the most horrific find of all was the discovery of seven spiral-bound notebooks that listed page after page of potential sexual assault victims, according to his own writing. Right now, we're just going through the laborious process of trying to identify who these kids are, most of whom are not listed by first and last name. Many it's first names, some it's nicknames; for instance, there are names like Las Vegas boy. But many of these pages have headings like `Boys Under 12,' `Boys Under 14,' `Boys I've done X, X, X, X with'--very disturbing stuff.

CHADWICK: You can't actually think that this person had encounters with 36,000 different victims, can you?

Lt. CORNFIELD: We don't think that there are 36,000 individual victims. We've seen already a number of the names have been repeated many times. But my belief that even if you just take a small percentage of this volume of names, we're looking at what could be a sexual predator of epidemic proportions.

CHADWICK: What is so disturbing in reading news accounts of this is that he's got multiple convictions for sex offenses in the past. Indeed, he was awaiting trial on another charge, wasn't he, when you arrested him?

Lt. CORNFIELD: He was wanted in another state, so, yeah, he's been through the system a number of times.

CHADWICK: Well, in the accounts that I have read, he was charged in Alaska. He was charged in Idaho. He was charged in New York. He was tried in Idaho. He did serve some time there, but those convictions were later overturned, and somehow he's gotten through the legal system. How does that happen?

Lt. CORNFIELD: You know, I don't have the information regarding what's happened on some of those cases; I only have an arrest sheet that shows sentencing, and it doesn't show if cases were overturned, so it's hard to know. But it looks like the system did not work.

CHADWICK: What is going to happen with this man now?

Lt. CORNFIELD: He's presently in custody here in San Jose. He will go to trial minimally on the seven counts that he's been charged with. But phone calls are obviously pouring in from around the country and we're trying to follow up on all of the leads that are coming in. And I would expect that sometime next week, we'll meet again with the district attorney and we will see if, in fact, we can file additional charges on him.

CHADWICK: Scott Cornfield is a lieutenant and detective with the San Jose Police Department, leading the investigation of accused child molester Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller. Lieutenant Cornfield, thank you for joining us.

Lt. CORNFIELD: Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

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