Clayton Harker : “Bellingham Man Sentenced for Child Enticement and Abuse”

A 28-year-old man from Bellingham, Washington, named Clayton Harker has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for possession of child pornography and attempted enticement of a minor. The sentencing took place in U.S. District Court in Seattle, as announced by U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Harker’s arrest in December 2022 came after he arrived at a Bellingham hotel, under the belief that he was meeting an 8-year-old girl for a sexual assault. However, the “girl” was actually a fictitious persona created by undercover Homeland Security Investigation agents.

Judge Richard Jones, presiding over the case, expressed deep concern, stating, “The court finds these cases extremely troubling. Fictitious individual or not, you had a clear thought in your mind to act on your desires.”

The investigation into Harker began when law enforcement was looking into a different Snapchat user who was pressuring young individuals for explicit images. This led them to Harker, who had been engaging in similar behavior online. In November 2022, Harker started communicating with an undercover agent who claimed to have an 8-year-old niece available for him to molest. Additionally, Harker also conversed with another agent posing as the young girl. He arrived at the hotel prepared to commit the assault and record it, but was apprehended before entering the premises.

At the sentencing hearing, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton pushed for a 30-year prison term, highlighting Harker’s pattern of soliciting minors for explicit images and using threats and extortion to obtain them. Hampton emphasized the need for Harker to be incapacitated through lengthy confinement and closely monitored supervision for the safety of minors.

Following his release from prison, Harker will be on 15 years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender. The case was handled by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in collaboration with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force based at the Seattle Police Department, with assistance from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton prosecuted the case.

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