Dr Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar

Dr Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar

Purdue University


Dr Seigfried-Spellar is a renowned expert in the field of online child sexual exploitation, specifically the criminological differences and grooming strategies of contact and non-contact child sex offenders. She has developed critical infrastructure to gain access to sensitive law enforcement ground truth data; she is deputised through the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office and is a founding member of the High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU). Her instrumental research intersects the social and behavioural sciences, artificial intelligence, biometrics, and digital forensics. Partnering with US Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, she developed the Chat Analysis Triage Tool. She also received a 2022-2023 US Fulbright Scholar Award to analyse the grooming strategies of Spanish child sex offenders.

Collaborative research project

Online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) is a global challenge – recognized as one of the priorities for Europol's 2022-2025 European Union Policy Cycle. The Australian Child Maltreatment Study found 1 in 4 Australians experienced contact child sexual abuse (CSA), while 1 in 5 experienced non-contact CSA. The Prime Minister launched the 2021-2030 National Strategy, which includes funding opportunities for research and development responding to CSA. In addition, the National Center for Missing & Exploited children estimates that 1/3 of OCSE offenders are contact-driven (motivated to have sex with the minor).

At Purdue University, Dr Seigfried-Spellar and colleagues have created the Chat Analysis Triage Tool (CATT) - a forensically sound investigative tool, funded by the Department of Justice, that analyzes chats between minors and offenders to differentiate high-priority contact-driven offenders and analyzes the “sexts” sent in the chat for knuckle, finger/hand geometry, and nail bed biometrics.

The objective of this collaborative research project will be to address this global challenge by leveraging two discrete technologies that have been developed by researchers at Purdue University (CATT) and The University of Adelaide (Biometric Analyser and Network Extractor, BANE hereafter) to produce a pathbreaking capability that will improve law enforcement’s ability to investigate OCSE. The work will explore developing an API that will allow the core functionality of CATT (natural language processing, hand biometrics) to communicate with BANE (face/voice biometrics, network analysis). This research visit will also involve collecting pilot data and evaluating the performance of CATT on Australian chat data (NLP algorithms trained on American English and Spanish; biometric algorithms trained on US/UK hand databases), which will be used to submit a larger grant proposal supporting the creation of an innovative tool that will significantly enhance law enforcement’s ability to investigate OCSE offences in Australia.

University of Adelaide host

Associate Professor Russell Brewer
School of Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics

More information about Dr Seigfried-Spellar.