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Press Release

Bellingham man sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted enticement of a minor and possession of images of child sexual abuse

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

Seattle – A 28-year-old Bellingham, Washington, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 12 years in prison for possession of child pornography and attempted enticement of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Clayton Harker was arrested in December 2022, when he arrived at a Bellingham hotel believing he was going to sexually assault an 8-year-old girl. The ‘girl’ in this case was fictitious and Harker had been communicating with undercover Homeland Security Investigation agents. 

At today’s sentencing hearing Judge Richard jones said, “The court finds these cases extremely troubling. Fictitious individual or not, you had a clear thought in your mind to act on your desires.”

According to records in the case, Harker came to the attention of law enforcement as they were investigating a different snapchat user who was pressuring young people for explicit images, claiming he wanted to pay them as “models.” Based on the communication between that subject and the person later identified as Harker, law enforcement began investigating his online activity. In November 2022, Harker began communicating with an undercover agent who claimed to have an 8-year-old niece Harker could molest. Harker not only communicated with that undercover agent, he also communicated with another agent who posed as the 8-year-old girl. Harker arrived at the hotel with materials to molest the child and video the assault. Harker was arrested before he even entered the hotel.

In asking the court to sentence Harker to 30 years in prison, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton noted that Harker told agents that he regularly solicited minors to send him sexually explicit imagery over the internet and would use threats and extortion when necessary to induce these children to send him that imagery. “Simply put, Harker has cut a swath of destruction across the lives of vulnerable minors whose only mistake was to cross paths with a predator. The threat he poses is real. And neutralizing that threat will require incapacitation through lengthy confinement followed by close supervision for the remainder of Harker’s life.”

Harker will be on 15 years of supervised release following prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force based at the Seattle Police Department. The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office also assisted.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated February 23, 2024

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Violent Crime