Kennewick Man Sentenced to Over 22 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Richland, WA – Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced James Patrick Wertman, age 53, of Kennewick, Washington, to 270 months in federal prison today for Production of Child Pornography. At the conclusion of his prison term, Wertman will spend the rest of his life on federal supervision. Chief Judge Bastian ordered restitution to the victims of Wertman’s offenses in the amount of $19,601.10. Wertman had entered a guilty plea to two counts of Production of Child Pornography, on January 10, 2023.
In announcing today’s sentence, Chief Judge Bastian observed that Wertman victimized a young child for several years and that in victimizing the child, he also victimized her family. Judge Bastian further indicated his sentence needed to recognize for the victim, the victim’s family, and the public that Wertman’s crime was serious and deserving of a serious sentence.
According to publicly available court documents, this case stemmed from a complaint from Defendant’s former fiancé, who reported she had located an iPad containing naked images of children, including the fiancé’s daughter, who was seven years old at the time.
Law enforcement obtained a search warrant and searched all of Wertman’s devices to include the iPad provided by the child’s mother and the iCloud account associated with that device. The search revealed child pornography images and videos Defendant produced of the child from the time she was 4 years old, up through the date her mother located the images, when the child was 7. During the investigation, law enforcement interviewed Wertman, who stated he had been in a dating relationship with the child’s mother for several years. Wertman further claimed that he believed he had deleted the nude photographs of the child.
The videos recovered from the iPad and Wertman’s iCloud depict him setting up a recording device (a phone) prior to capturing the child, who was not wearing any clothing. Wertmen then proceeded to sexually molest the child. These images and videos are the subject of the federal case against Wertman for which he was sentenced today. Following today’s sentencing, Wertman will be transferred to Benton County Superior Court, where he has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree child molestation.
While the gravity of Wertman’s crimes and the impact on his victim are immediately apparent, Wertman’s actions also have impacted, and will continue to impact, the victim’s family. Wertman’s crimes left a mother believing she is incapable of protecting her own children. As the victim’s mother explained in a victim impact letter, she now questions every relationship, distrusts everyone, and lives in a state of constant worry and fear, all as a result of Wertman’s betrayal of trust. This grieving mother further notes she thought she was doing all of the right things to protect her children, but believes she failed her daughter. The victim’s other family members expressed the same feelings regarding the harm they experienced as a result of Wertman’s crimes against an innocent child.
After today’s sentencing hearing, U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated, “Child abuse devastates entire families and our community. While we all need to take great care in selecting our children’s caretakers, this crime was the fault of one man only, the Defendant, James Wertman, who chose to victimize an innocent child who trusted him.” U.S. Attorney Waldref reiterated, “My office prioritizes these offenses against our community’s youngest and most vulnerable and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who harm children.”
“Mr. Wertman exploited a position of trust to abuse an innocent child. I applaud the investigative work to put this child predator behind bars,” said SAC Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “Child exploitation cases will remain a priority for HSI, and we ask that parents remain alert to anyone that would pose a threat to children.”
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.
The federal case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations through the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes detectives from the Kennewick and Richland Police Departments as well as the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, and Laurel Holland, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Benton County.
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or email@example.com
Updated April 13, 2023
Project Safe Childhood