Spokane Doctor Sentenced to Life Imprisonment Following a Jury Verdict for 12 Counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of Children
Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Craig A. Morgenstern, age 47, of Nine Mile Falls, Washington was sentenced to 12 life terms in federal prison after a jury found him guilty of 12 counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child. Senior United States District Judge W. Fremming Nielsen also imposed a 30-year term of imprisonment for each of Morgenstern’s 18 convictions for Production and Attempted Production of Child Pornography; a 20-year term of imprisonment for Morgenstern’s two convictions for Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Contact with a Minor; and, a 20-year term of imprisonment for Morgenstern’s conviction for Receipt of Child Pornography.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Morgenstern sexually assaulted six young boys and produced child pornography images of the assaults from 2008 through 2014. The victims ranged in age from 7 to 15 years old at the time of the assaults. Evidence at trial also established that Morgenstern traveled to Idaho, Mississippi, and Tennessee in order to sexually molest the same victims and produce child pornography images for his own sexual gratification. Evidence also established that Morgenstern would incapacitate his victims using drugs so that the victims were unaware of the sexual abuse and so that Morgenstern to continue his crimes and avoid detection.
Evidence at trial established that Morgenstern’s crimes were discovered after one of his victims, then a minor child less than 14 years old, escaped from the Morgenstern’s residence in Stevens County on October 18, 2014 after awaking to Morgenstern sexually assaulting him during the early morning hours. Subsequent investigation and evidence lead to the discovery of the additional victims.
At sentencing, Senior Judge Nielsen recounted the basis for the Jury’s 33 guilty verdicts against Morgenstern and noted that the evidence against him was overwhelming. Senior Judge Nielsen also found that Morgenstern obstructed justice by attempting to destroy much of the evidence of his crimes prior to his arrest. Prior the Court’s imposition of sentence, several victims and members of the victims’ families addressed the Court and Morgenstern, recounting the effect of Morgenstern’s crimes.
In addition to imposing imprisonment, Senior Judge Nielsen also ordered the forfeiture of numerous electronic devices and other materials that Morgenstern used to produce and maintain his collection of child pornography, the forfeiture of approximately $30,000 remaining from the sale of Morgenstern’s house, and restitution of approximately $10,000 to the families of the victims.
Michael C. Ormsby said “Morgenstern is every parent’s nightmare. Morgenstern preyed on families by grooming both the parents and children into trusting him so that he could be alone with his victims. Once alone with his victims he would drug them, sexually molest them and produce graphic images and videos of his molestation of the victims. The trauma associated with Morgenstern’s actions cannot be overstated and the damage caused by the Morgenstern to the victims by his sexual exploitation of them and breach of their trust is immeasurable.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Stephanie J. Lister and James A. Goeke, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington, 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.