U.S. Marshals Locate 225 Missing Children in 16 Locations Across the United States During Operation We Will Find You
Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Monica Linker, age 32, of Walla Walla, Washington, was sentenced on October 21, 2021, after pleading guilty to Receipt of Child Pornography. Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Linker to 5 years in federal custody, to be followed by a 10- year term of court supervision after she is released. Chief Judge Bastian calculated Linker’s sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines at more than 12 years – in part because this was Linker’s fourth child pornography offense – but exercised his discretion to depart downward to 5 years. Linker’s sentence is 8 years shorter than the 13-year sentence the United States recommended.
According to court documents, an FBI Special Agent went online in an undercover role to locate people in the community who were trading child pornography. The agent downloaded more than 80 videos of child pornography from Linker’s residence in Walla Walla, which led to a search warrant and the removal of all digital devices from her home. A forensic review confirmed significant child pornography evidence on her devices. Then, approximately ten months later, FBI executed a second search warrant at Linker’s new residence, recovering new images of child pornography from Linker’s new digital devices. In all, FBI recovered a significant amount of child pornography, as well as other indicia of Linker’s sexual interest in children and technical sophistication. This evidence included peer-to-peer, cleaning, encryption, and hacking software, and a Japanese Anime child pornography comic book. FBI also found evidence that Linker had burned images of child pornography onto disks. By the time FBI located Linker online, she had sustained three child pornography offenses under Washington law. In fact, she was on supervision with the Washington Department of Corrections when FBI downloaded child pornography from her. During prior probation searches of Linker’s residences, officers recovered 25 pairs of girls’ panties, anime books and videos, anime pornography, and a book on child gynecology.
United States Attorney Waldref condemned the exploitation of children:
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington works closely with our local and federal partners to apprehend the most serious child exploitation offenders in our community. I commend the Walla Walla Police Department and the FBI, whose excellent investigation in this case has protected children by keeping a recidivist offender off the streets for years. Sadly, there is an entire community of people who use the Internet to collect and trade crime-scene photos of children’s abuse for their own sexual gratification. Those images often travel around the Internet forever, ensuring that child pornography victims are never truly free. To those who use peer-to-peer networks to exploit children while seeking to evade detection by law enforcement, today’s sentence puts you on notice: undercover FBI agents are online at all hours of the day and night looking for child pornography offenders. We will continue to prosecute child exploitation as vigorously as the law allows. I encourage anyone who sees or suspects any form of child abuse to contact law enforcement immediately.”
Donald Voiret, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Division, which encompasses the Spokane, Walla Walla, and Yakima areas, said “Ms. Linker is a repeat offender who has obviously not learned her lesson from her past convictions. Her compulsion to engage in this activity, even after being aware of law enforcement scrutiny, indicates the importance of keeping her away from the children in our communities.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood (“PSC”), 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. PSC has five major components:
ꞏ Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases,
and to identify and rescue children;
ꞏ Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
ꞏ Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
ꞏ Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
ꞏ 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.”
Detective (Ret.) Tim Hollingsworth led the investigation by the Walla Walla Police Department and Special Agent (Ret.) Lee McEuen led the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. David M. Herzog, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, prosecuted the case.