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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Portland Man on Pretrial Release in Child Sex Abuse Case Indicted for Possessing and Distributing Child Pornography

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal indictment was unsealed today charging a Portland man with committing child pornography offenses while awaiting trial in a state child sex abuse case.

Raphael Alberto Whitfield, 33, has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

According to court documents, on February 8, 2021, Whitfield was arrested after being indicted in Clackamas County Circuit Court on five counts of first-degree sexual abuse for allegedly abusing a child under the age of eight. Whitfield posted bail and was released the next day. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement in Oregon began investigating Whitfield’s use of Discord, an online instant messaging application, to send and receive child pornography. Search warrant returns showed that Whitfield had used the platform to distribute images depicting child sexual abuse as early as September 2020.

Law enforcement continued investigating Whitfield throughout much of 2021. These investigative efforts culminated in an October 2021 search of Whitfield’s person, car, and residence. Investigators seized two mobile phones, one of which was later found to contain more than 1,000 images depicting child sexual abuse. Many of these images were collected and saved while Whitfield was awaiting trial in Clackamas County.

On May 17, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Whitfield and an arrest warrant was issued. On May 27, 2022, with the assistance of the Portland Police Bureau’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT), the FBI executed the arrest warrant at Whitfield’s residence. When agents and SERT members knocked and announced their presence, Whitfield barricaded himself in the residence and attempted to take his own life by cutting his throat and wrist with a knife. Whitfield eventually exited the residence and was arrested and transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Whitfield made his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered detained pending a three-day jury trial scheduled to begin on August 2, 2022.

Possession and distribution of child pornography are each punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, a life term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Additionally, distribution of child pornography carries a 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF). The Portland Police Bureau assisted with Mr. Whitfield’s arrest. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mira Chernick is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. Child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, child victims suffer re-victimization each time the image of their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.org.

The FBI CETF conducts sexual exploitation investigations, many of them undercover, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. CETF is committed to locating and arresting those who prey on children as well as recovering and assisting victims of sex trafficking and child exploitation.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Justice Department to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated June 1, 2022