Church deacon from the East among 76 arrested in child porn sting

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCT) – North Carolina authorities say 76 people have been arrested in eight southeastern states on charges of child pornography or otherwise exploiting children.

In North Carolina, the SBI said eight children were rescued or removed from abusive situations. Several children in other states were also identified as victims or rescued.

Eight men arrested in North Carolina face charges including sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography.

Among those arrested was 73-year-old Richard Wayne Bell of Currituck County, who served as a church deacon and served as an administrator of the church’s daycare program. Bell was arrested for child pornography offenses.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation announced Friday that the operation involved more than 200 law enforcement agencies and took four months of planning. The task force included investigators in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Those arrested ranged in age from 17 to 73 and included a postal worker, mechanic, daycare administrator and magician.

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