The 12-year-old girl was really Dennis T. Guzy, supervisor of the state Attorney General's Child Sexual Exploitation Unit.

Last week, the enthusiastic lover -- a 46-year-old man, who had been corresponding from his computer in a federal office -- was arrested for trying to have sex with a child.

Guzy spends five to six hours a day "chatting'' on the Internet with men like this who are looking to have sex with children, photograph naked children, tie up children and film children being forced to have sex.

He repeatedly volunteers his fictitious three children -- two daughters, aged 12 and 9, and a son, 7 -- for the most unimaginable deviant sex acts.

Unfortunately, business is good.

And not all children being sexually exploited are imaginary.

Since March 2001, Guzy has arrested about three dozen men -- including several from Lancaster County -- intending to have sex with his young children, bringing them candy, money, sex toys and lingerie.

Among the local investigations, Guzy has encountered a city man who brought dog collars and chains to meet a teenage girl.

He has arrested a Lititz man who sent him child pornography through the mail. He has arrested men from Elizabethtown, Willow Street and all over the county, all interested in having sex with children.

In his Harrisburg area office recently, Guzy showed stacks of pictures and home movies he's confiscated over the years. Many show naked children being physically abused or forced into sex acts -- all for some twisted adult's sexual gratification.

"Welcome to my world,'' Guzy said. "It's the darkest, seediest type of world you can imagine.'' It's the thought of the trauma and horror these children endure, Guzy said, that motivates his sole mission in life: to catch sexual predators before they can hurt another child.

"You never really know who they are,'' Guzy said. "Most have steady jobs, many are married with families...some live in million-dollar homes.

"But the urge to have sex with kids is that great, that they're willing to risk it all,'' Guzy said. "And pornography reinforces their beliefs that it's OK to do this with kids.'' One of the most frightening things about child pornography, Guzy said, is how easily it's shared on the Internet, catching innocent children along the way.

The Internet features pictures of smiling, happy naked children. The reality is anything but, Guzy said, picking up a picture of one little girl. Lying on her back, naked, her eyes and mouth are squeezed shut in a grimace.

"Does she look happy?'' Guzy asked.

Another girl stands naked, a dog collar around her neck and bondage cuffs on her arms, grimly staring at the camera without emotion.

Different world

Guzy has been in law enforcement for more than 26 years, most of which has been spent investigating sex crimes.

Now, he's head of a state agency devoted solely to catching child sexual predators.

One Lancaster detective, who specializes in similar crimes, described Guzy as "the best'' there is at the task. A Harrisburg police chief, in charge of Guzy's backup team during arrests, described him as "absolutely masterful.'' "He is clearly the best in the state,'' Susquehanna Township Police Chief Robert Martin added.

Guzy admitted dealing with child sexual predators every day is difficult.

"This job isn't for everybody,'' Guzy said. "You have to enter into an entirely different world.

"You have to think, talk and act like a child sexual predator. You can't think as a rational person, as a father, or as anyone who's concerned or cares about kids would think,'' he said.

Examples quickly come to mind. One of the most memorable, Guzy said, was a York man he arrested two years ago after an e-mail correspondence.

After the suspect's picture appeared on television, Guzy got a call from the man's daughter.

He had sexually abused her routinely for 10 years, the young woman told Guzy, beginning when she was 7 years old, sometimes with her mother's participation. And, Guzy said, the man had taken pictures to prove it.

Guzy also remembered an Adams County doll maker, who convinced "an amazing number'' of parents to allow him to photograph their daughters naked, supposedly so he could make them anatomically correct, look-alike, dolls.

"It's different from any other kind of undercover work,'' Guzy said. "You are dealing with the scum of society, preying on essentially defenseless children.'' Guzy picks up a stack of snapshots and shows them like a Rorschach test.

Color photographs of children playing at a public swimming pool, elementary school cheerleaders, an 11-year-old girl standing alone on a sidewalk, and a group of little girls playing on the beach.

"To you and me, they are just pictures of kids,'' Guzy said, everyday photographs taken in public places.

To the predator, Guzy said, they're erotic art.

The photographer in this case taped a white, cardboard frame over one of the beach pictures, focusing on one little girl -- blond hair, big smile and a wet two-piece blue bathing suit.

Another stack of photos, confiscated from another suspect, shows a naked baby girl, about 8 months old. Some photographs show her on her back having her diaper changed or simply sitting and smiling.

On the side of the picture are suggestive words, written in black with arrows pointing to various parts of her anatomy, including "flat-chested'' and "sexy.'' "Now, to you or me,'' Guzy said, "there is nothing sexy about this child.'' The man, a relative of the little girl, was so fond of the pictures, Guzy said, he had some laminated, some framed and some made into magnets for his refrigerator.

There was another picture in the suspect's home, Guzy said: A portrait of an older couple, most likely his parents. Guzy flips the picture over. The back is entirely covered with child pornography.

"Pedophilia is a nice-sounding, free-flowing word,'' Guzy said, the politically-correct definition of someone who is sexually attracted to children, "but these people are child sexual predators -- that's what they are.'' The alarm bells sound in Guzy's mind when he sees the predator adding violence to the pornography, someone who is "taking it to the next level of deviance.'' He points to the drawings of another suspect. Artistic pencil sketches of little girls, except that in the picture, are shown pulling down their pants and exposing themselves. The same artist goes sketched other girls in bondage and impaled.

Another man e-mailed Guzy last week, asking for movies of children being spanked, "in a loving way.'' Guzy plays a home video of a little boy, in three different scenarios, repeatedly pulling down his pants and bending over for a paddling.

The video, Guzy explains, will be used later for the viewers' sexual gratification. To the child, there's no understanding.

"Why, Daddy, why?'' the boy asks plaintively, between sobs, as he is slowly, repeatedly, struck, first with a hand, then in the second two segments, with a yardstick.

"It's the sound,'' Guzy said, hitting the mute button on the remote, that still gets to him. The sound of children crying and pleading, the sound of children being physically abused.

"My goal is to identify these child predators before the first time -- before the first time they can hurt a child.''

Anywhere, anytime

Guzy, 48, grew up in Philadelphia, "in a Polish neighborhood where you either became a cop, a fireman or a priest.''

He chose to be a policeman.

After several years patrolling the streets, seeing the abused children first hand, the Philadelphia Police Department formed a sex crimes unit. Guzy signed up and he found his calling.

Then in 1989, the state Attorney General's office formed its own sex crimes unit and Guzy joined the team.

When Mike Fisher became attorney general, Guzy said, "he gave us one simple order: "Go out and lock these guys up' ...He's so supportive of what we do.'' Guzy also credits the support of his wife and three real children, who have tolerated pretty well his modeling the imaginary family after them. His oldest son, now 27, has followed his footsteps into a crime-fighting career.

As a policeman, Guzy responded to reports of abuse and saw the victims firsthand in the hospitals and homes. Now, he said, instead of reactive, the work he does is pro-active, trying to stop them before someone gets hurt.

"It tore my heart to see the number of kids,'' impacted by sexual, physical and emotional abuse, Guzy said. "Their lives have changed forever. This was something they will never forget.'' Even sadder, Guzy said, is often times the child remains loyal to the abuser.

"They'll say, "Why doesn't he love me? What did I do to make him mad at me?' It's almost like a despair because their world is crumbling.'' Last Christmas, Guzy said, before his wife and children woke up, he went downstairs to his computer and sent out e-mails to the current list of predators he was investigating.

Later in the morning, he sent out some more.

"These guys know cops work 9 to 5, with holidays and weekends off,'' Guzy said with a smile, saying that's all the more reason to work Saturdays, Sundays, early in the morning and late at night.

"It's a little bit different,'' Guzy said, "but always successful.'' During his investigations, Guzy said he makes sure the suspect clearly communicates he is seeking sex with children and seriously intends to go through with the meeting.

Though he fully believes pedophiles are in great need of psychological treatment, Guzy said, "prison is a good place to start.'' "We want them to know: We're out there hunting for you and when we catch you, you're going to jail.'' And what is prison like for child molesters? "It's a living hell. Every day.'' One day he asked a prisoner why it's so difficult for child abusers in prison.

"I'm locked up in here. My kids are out there,'' Guzy said the inmate told him. If someone hurts his children, the inmate continued, "there's nothing I can do about it...but I can when he's in here.'' Guzy looks like an average, mild-mannered, middle-aged professional, but he has an bulldog attitude when it comes to sexually abused children.

"I'll go anywhere, anytime, to arrest somebody,'' Guzy said. "I love my job.'' Occasionally, camera shop employees, processing questionable film, alert investigators to a possible child abuse situation.

"I'm not ashamed,'' Guzy said, without blinking, "I'll go knock on their door and ask them to explain.'' "If it's innocent,'' Guzy said, fine. He apologizes and leaves.

He flips though another series of snapshots. A harmless picture of two young children in a bubble bath. Then a picture standing outside the tub naked. The next picture shows them performing a sex act.

"If it's for their sexual gratification,'' Guzy said, he'll go after them.

Love your kids

Guzy emphasized that he is just one facet of the process.

While Guzy and his team of investigators go after the predators, others in the attorney general's office handle the legal aspect of selling and distributing child pornography.

Still other law enforcement agencies, state and local, work every day responding to reports of abuse and prosecuting people who sexually abuse children. Still others, child psychiatrists, work to help the victims piece back their lives.

But the "real heroes,'' Guzy said, "are the poor kids who have been the victims,'' and manage to find a way to go on living their lives.

After his team makes an arrest, Guzy said, they go back and talk to the suspect's children, "to make sure there hasn't been molestation in the family or neighborhood.'' If the team suspects there has been a problem, Guzy said, it contacts local police and children's social service agencies.

His best teachers have been the predators themselves, Guzy said.

After their arrest and conviction, (and he has a 100 percent conviction rate), Guzy talks to his suspects asking if there was anything about the investigation that made them suspicious.

He also asks if they were molested as a child. Most say they were.

Many also tell him "the weight of the world is off their shoulders,'' when they are arrested, Guzy said.

Once, while driving a convicted child molester to state prison, Guzy asked him what advice he could give to parents.

"Tell them this: If you don't love your kids, I will.''