John David Yoder was a licensed foster parent. He lived in a two-bedroom house with two adopted sons, a preteen boy for whom he was seeking guardianship, and a neighborhood teenager who had moved in after an argument with his parents. Someone called a child abuse hotline, reporting that a parent in Desert Hot Springs was molesting two boys. The caller said the man also kept pictures of boys posing in their underwear on his computer. To these social workers, these underwear pictures were concerning, but they were not concerning enough. Social workers classified the investigation as "inconclusive," then closed their inquiry, according to Riverside County court documents. Today, that same parent, John David Yoder, sits behind bars, a suspect in what officials have called one of the worst child pornography rings in Southern California in recent years. Yoder and three other suspects have been accused of victimizing as many as 15 children in Desert Hot Springs, including some of the boys that lived with him. Yoder was arrested in February as result of a separate investigation by law enforcement in Nevada. The charges he now faces are nearly identical to the allegations that were reported to the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services shortly before Christmas. If social workers had acted differently in December, the boys in Yoder's home could have been rescued six weeks earlier.
Investigators say child-pornography victims are getting younger, and the abuse is becoming more violent. In Arizona, we know of 15,000 IP addresses (the Internet Protocol labels assigned to each computer device) belonging to people who own computers, cellphones and other electronic devices trading and downloading child porn. A significant number of these videos and images consist of infants and young children being raped, tortured and sexually abused. Some of even include "how to" instructions on how a grown man can rape a 3-year-old and groom him or her for years of abuse. Efforts have increased as the Phoenix area prepares to host the Super Bowl, which for years has been dogged by claims that it brings along with it a rise in underage girls for sale in any host city.