About 250 case files languish in a bin at the Maine State Police computer crimes unit in Vassalboro. The files document the worst child pornography cases, complete with instructional videos detailing how to sexually assault children without getting caught.
“It’s a staggering weight to know that those cases are sitting back there,” said Sgt. Glenn Lang, commander of the Vassalboro office. “To not be out there addressing those cases, it’s a terrible thing.”
The Maine crime lab can’t get to the cases because it’s overworked. With more cases coming in every week, the bin will likely never be empty.
The Maine crime lab, like many across the country, is stumbling under what specialists call the CSI Effect. Americans see television lab techs unravel the knottiest cases with evidence culled from the smallest clues, thanks to the most advanced equipment ever devised, and they presume that’s how it works in the real world.