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Press Release

Soap Lake Man Pleads Guilty to Production and Attempted Production of Child Pornography Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Michael Gene Rice, 48, of Soap Lake, Washington, pleaded guilty to Production and Attempted Production of Child Pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(a), (e). United States District Judge Thomas. O. Rice accepted Rice’s guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for October 11, 2023, in Spokane, Washington.

According to court documents and proceedings, Rice caused an 11-year old minor in his care to record the minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct on Rice’s phone.  The minor disclosed the conduct to law enforcement, and a search warrant was granted for Rice’s iCloud account data.  In Rice’s iCloud account, law enforcement observed child pornography videos consistent with the minor’s statements.

Court documents reveal that Rice was previously convicted in 2002 of Rape of a Child in the First Degree, in Grant County, Washington.  The victim in that case was also 11 years old.

Sentencing is also pending in Grant County Case No. No. 22-1-00131-13, where Rice was convicted after a jury trial earlier this year of two counts of Dealing in Depictions of a Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct and two counts of Possession of Depictions of a Minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct.

“As a parent, I am chilled by Mr. Rice’s exploitative conduct of a young child,” said United States Attorney Waldref. “My office will continue to take child exploitation seriously, whether online or in-person. Children everywhere deserve to live in a world free from predators.” United States Attorney Waldref continued, “This case, like so many of the cases we prosecute in federal court, involved a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement. We are particularly grateful for the Grant County Prosecuting Office’s partnership on this case. When law enforcement is able to partner together – as we did here – we are able to do much to strengthen our communities and keep our citizens, including young children, safe.”

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 For information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab “resources.”

In addition, this case was investigated by the Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF), which is dedicated to protecting the children of Washington State by assisting and investigating missing child and exploitation cases. Washington State Patrol (WSP) MECTF partnered with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Spokane on a Task Force housed at the HSI Spokane office.  The Task Force includes Special Agents, Detectives, and Analysts from WSP, HSI, Spokane PD, and representatives from outlying Counties dedicated to serving the children and communities of the region. The MECTF traces its origins to 1999, when the Washington Legislature established a task force on missing and exploited children under the direction of the Chief of the state patrol, RCW 13.60.110.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.  This case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.   



Richard Barker 
First Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-353-2767 or

Updated July 17, 2023

Project Safe Childhood