Skip to main content
Press Release

Mother Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing her Young Child

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

PORTLAND, Ore. – U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon sentenced Carolyn M. Knudsen, 29, of Camas, Washington, to 300 months in prison, for transporting her young child across state lines from Camas, Washington to Gresham, Oregon, for purposes of sexually abusing the child.  Following her release from prison, Knudsen will be required to serve ten years on supervision and register as a sex offender.

Knudsen, and co-defendant James Hickerson, 36, of Gresham, Oregon, were jointly charged with aggravated sex abuse (sex abuse of a minor under the age of 12), transportation of a minor across state lines for unlawful sexual purposes, and production of child pornography.  According to court documents, the two sexually abused Knudsen’s toddler child for months, possibly up to two years, in Gresham and on at least one occasion in Washington.  The government presented two videos of the abuse at sentencing to refute Knudsen’s claims that she did not sexually abuse her child, that she was forced to engage in the conduct, and that she did not know Hickerson was videotaping the abuse.

Knudsen pled guilty in May as part of a plea agreement calling for the 25-year sentence.  Although Knudsen stood by her plea at the sentencing hearing, she denied many of the government’s allegations at her change of plea, and according to the government’s argument at sentencing, in a letter she provided the court immediately before sentencing.  Knudsen told the court that it only knew part of the facts and insisted she “did not hurt” her child.  However, after viewing the videos in chambers, Judge Simon replied, “It may be true that I’m only getting a portion of what happened, but from the portion that I have seen and that I have read, it does appear to me that you have failed to fulfill the fundamental responsibility of a parent, which is to protect one’s child.”  The Court then followed the parties’ joint recommendation and sentenced Knudsen to 25 years in prison for her conduct, finding it an appropriate sentence considering the serious nature of the offense, the defendant’s history and characteristics, the need to promote respect for the law, and to punish and deter future illegal conduct.

Knudsen was facing a mandatory 30-year sentence on the aggravated sex abuse charge, and potentially a higher sentence, if she went to trial or was prosecuted by either state.  The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and the Clark County, Washington Prosecutors Office agreed not to prosecute Knudsen further as long as she received a sentence of at least 25 years in the federal case.  James Hickerson has also entered a guilty plea in this case and in a separate child pornography case.  Hickerson is scheduled for sentencing before Judge Simon on November 9, 2015.

Acting U. S. Attorney Billy J. Williams praised the sentence and said, “Child sex abuse is always disturbing, but is particularly reprehensible when it involves a parent.  It is simply despicable, and was aggravated in so many respects in this case, between the age of the child, the length of abuse, and the fact that the defendants recorded videos and photographed it.  Thanks to the good work of law enforcement and the quick coordination with child welfare, this child was promptly rescued, and the child’s mother will remain behind bars until after the child is an adult.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice and led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

This investigation involved the cooperation and participation of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, the Interagency Child Exploitation Proactive Task Force (INTERCEPT), the Vancouver Interagency Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Camas Police Department, Child Protective Services in Vancouver, Washington, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Clark County, Washington Prosecutor’s Office, and the U. S, Attorney’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Shoemaker.

Updated November 30, 2015

Human Trafficking
Project Safe Childhood