U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that the U.S. Justice Department has recognized Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker for his exemplary efforts to protect children. AUSA Walker received the Child Protection Award at the annual National Missing Children’s Day commemoration held in Washington, D.C., this week. 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.

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AUSA Luke Walker (third from left) received the Child Protection Award from Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, left, joined by Robert L. Listenbee, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention administrator, and Mary Lou Leary, acting assistant AG for the Office of Justice programs.

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 U.S. were identified.

Walker also carries a full caseload of other cases and teaches children and parents throughout the Western District 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.

Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day to remember Etan Patz, a 6-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.

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