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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 13, 2019

10 Year Prison Term for Receipt of Child Pornography

Warden, Washington Man Sentenced in Federal Court

Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Michael Leavitt, age 54 of Warden, Washington, was sentenced today after having pleaded guilty on March 14, 2019, to receipt of child pornography. Chief United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Leavitt to a 10-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 10-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. Chief Judge Rice imposed restitution in the amount of $3,000 for one of the child pornography victims whose picture Leavitt had in his collection. Chief Judge Rice also required Leavitt to register as a sex offender upon completion of his prison sentence.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Leavitt received over 600 images of child pornography via the internet. The images were discovered on his digital devices, which were searched pursuant to federal search warrants. The investigation began when a 9-year-old student reported to authorities that Leavitt attempted to take photographs under her skirt while he was substitute teaching in her class at Warden Elementary. Investigators discovered Leavitt possessed numerous images of other students. During an interview with law enforcement, Leavitt admitted he had taken pictures of the students without their knowledge.

Chief Judge Rice noted that the lives of the child victims depicted in child pornography images will never be the same and Leavitt was not the type of child pornography defendant who only acted alone in front of a computer without access to children. The Court ruled that Leavitt’s attempted interactions with young children merited a more serious sentence, and his conduct was very close to the kinds of child exploitation conduct that often merits a life sentence.

U.S. Attorney Harrington said, “This case sends a strong message that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are firmly committed to protecting the public from individuals with a sexual interest in children who receive and collect child pornography. The United States Attorney’s Office commends the law enforcement officers with the Warden Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated this case. Their partnership during the investigation resulted in the successful outcome of this case.”

This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:

· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;

· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;

· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;

· Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and

· Community awareness and educational programs.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Warden Police Department. This case was prosecuted by David M. Herzog, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
No. 2:18-CR-0177-TOR-1
Updated June 13, 2019