Ferndale, Washington Man Sentenced to Prison for Child Exploitation Crime
Defendant Posted Ad on Craigslist for Sex with a Minor that got Attention of Law Enforcement
A 40-year-old resident of Ferndale, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to six and a half years in prison after he tried to secretly cross the Canadian border to have sex with someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. CHRISTOPHER DAVID JOHNSTON, was arrested in May 2016 when he tried to illegally cross the border into Canada near Sumas following a two-week period during which he communicated with an undercover agent posing as a 12-year-old child. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones imposed a ten-year term of supervised release and recommended both sex offender treatment and drug treatment. “What concerns me is that your drug addiction puts you in a position to think this (criminal conduct) is o.k.,” Judge Jones said. “Had this child been a real person… the damage would have been life-long and serious.”
According to records filed in the case, JOHNSTON posted an ad in the “casual encounters” section of the Craigslist personal ad site. The ad used phrases leading law enforcement to believe JOHNSTON was seeking sex with minors. An undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) responded to the ad posing as a 12-year-old girl. Over the next two weeks JOHNSTON sent increasingly sexualized communications and asked for explicit pictures of the “girl.” On May 20, 2016, JOHNSTON left his home and headed toward the Canadian border, intending to illegally cross the border and meet the “girl” for sex. He was under surveillance the entire time and was arrested before crossing into Canada.
At the time of his arrest JOHNSTON was facing various state charges in Whatcom County which would have prevented him from legally crossing the border. In asking for the prison sentence and 20-year term of supervised release, prosecutors noted that JOHNSTON was willing to go to great lengths to try to reach the fictional 12-year-old. “Even the fact that he had no means of legally crossing into Canada and his pending felony charges were not sufficient to deter him,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo. JOHNSTON is required to register as a sex offender following his release from prison.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.