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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 22, 2016

Former Psychologist Sentenced to 6+ Years for Seeking Sex with 12-Year-Old

After Posting Ad on Craigslist, Communicated about Sex with Child

          A Seattle psychologist was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 78 months in prison and five years of supervised release for attempted travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct and attempted receipt of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  JONATHAN BRENT WULF, 62, of Seattle posted an ad on Craigslist beginning a conversation with what turned out to be an undercover agent working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).  Through various communications by phone and internet, WULF said he wanted to have sex with the agent’s fictional 12-year-old stepdaughter.  WULF was arrested in September 2015 when he arrived at the hotel selected as the meeting place for the sexual encounter.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones noted WULF’s career as a clinical psychologist saying “You’ve been able to see the kind of damage this activity can cause.”

            “Predators use social media and the internet to prey on children,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “Even where there is careful oversight by parents, children are vulnerable to sexual predators through their online activities.  This defendant, a child psychologist, thought he could hide in the shadow of the internet.  He was wrong. Law enforcement and a prison sentence is what awaited him instead.”

          According to records filed in the case, over a two week period in September 2015, WULF repeatedly communicated with the undercover agent about his wanting to have sex with the agent’s fictional 12-year-old stepdaughter.  WULF repeatedly suggested that all text messages or other internet communications regarding his interest in underage sex should be deleted.  WULF also repeatedly acknowledged that pursuing sex with a minor was illegal.  WULF was a trained psychologist who had specialized in children and adolescents.  The Washington State Department of Health has suspended WULF’s license.

          “We entrust teachers and counselors to serve as role models for our children and safeguard their welfare, said Steve Cagen, acting special agent in charge for HSI Seattle. “This sentence should serve as a stern warning to anyone who mistakenly believes cyberspace affords them anonymity and they can use the Internet to sexually exploit children with impunity. HSI will use all of its law enforcement authorities to combat this heinous behavior -- we owe it to the children who are the victims in these cases, many of whom will bear the emotional scars of this trauma for the rest of their lives.”

          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 www.justice.gov/psc

          The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Project Safe Childhood
Updated July 22, 2016