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Press Release

Camano Island Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Paying for the Molestation of Children Viewed via the Internet

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant Preyed on those in Poverty for his Sexual Gratification

          A 69-year-old resident of Camano Island, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to nine years in prison and 15 years of supervised release for receipt of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  JOSEPH VERNON GRUBBS pleaded guilty in June 2017, admitting he paid people in the Philippines to sexually abuse children, and send the images and videos of that abuse to him over email.  He paid to watch live webcasts of minors performing sex acts with other minors and adults.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly told GRUBBS “this is outrageous conduct.” 

          “The depravity of this defendant’s conduct is beyond words,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “He took advantage of poverty in a country half a world away to facilitate the sexual abuse of children.  The result was the perpetuation of a vicious cycle of abuse and victimization that harmed the most vulnerable among us.”   

          According to records filed in the case, GRUBBS came to the attention of law enforcement when Yahoo notified the FBI that it was investigating a number of users of its email and messaging service who were sexually exploiting children in the Philippines.  The FBI served a search warrant on GRUBBS’s home, and arrested him in July 2016.  GRUBBS had traveled frequently to the Philippines.  He told investigators he lived there in a second home six months of the year.            

          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 Department of Justice. 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

          The case was investigated by the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.



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

Updated October 5, 2017

Project Safe Childhood