Bellingham, Washington, man arrested and charged federally for crimes related to sexual abuse of children
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant allegedly sought to have sex with 8-year-old child and record images
Seattle – A 27-year-old Bellingham, Washington, man appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle today charged with two federal felonies related to his attempts to sexually assault a child, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Clayton Harker was arrested yesterday 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. Harker is being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac pending further hearings.
According to the criminal complaint, 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 yesterday afternoon allegedly with materials to molest the child and video the assault. Harker was arrested before he even entered the hotel.
Law enforcement continues to investigate Harker’s online activities including allegedly pressuring young girls for sexually explicit photos. Just this week DOJ, the FBI and HSI issued an alert about strangers extorting children for sexual images.
Attempted enticement of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison. Attempted production of child pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being 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 is being 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 Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated December 21, 2022
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