Repeat Sex Offender who Preyed on Youth via Online Computer Games Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
Posing as a Teen, 35-year-old Man Sought Sexually Explicit Photos
A 35-year-old Kirkland, Washington man was sentenced Monday, June 29, 2015 in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 years in prison for receipt and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. ANDREW MICHAEL HARTUNG was contacted by law enforcement after a parent in Colorado reported that someone his son had met through online games asked the teen for sexually explicit pictures. While playing the online games “League of Legends” and “Minecraft,” HARTUNG represented himself as a teen-ager. Further investigation revealed HARTUNG had convinced other young teens to send him sexually explicit photos. In 2002, HARTUNG was convicted of possession of child pornography while a student in Pullman, Washington. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart imposed the mandatory minimum 15-year sentence for offenders with a prior conviction for a child sex offense, and ordered HARTUNG to be on lifetime supervised release following the prison sentence.
“This convicted sex offender patronized online gaming sites predominately frequented by minors,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “He spent years cultivating relationships with malleable young teens, grooming them and plying them with misinformation about his age, identity, and most importantly his intentions. This case serves as a reminder to parents to be engaged in their children’s online lives.”
According to records filed in the case, HARTUNG cultivated relationships with at least three teen-age boys online over years of playing video games. HARTUNG convinced the teens he was also a teen-ager and sent the teens gift cards, online game points and gifts. HARTUNG contacted the teens via text message, SKYPE, and FaceTime. In one instance HARTUNG traveled to the victim’s state (Arizona) to provide him with a laptop computer. Messages recovered from HARTUNG’s and the victim’s media devices reveal HARTUNG was trading gifts, game items and money for sexually explicit images of the victims. Before law enforcement executed a search warrant in April 2014, HARTUNG had been planning to travel to Colorado to contact the victims.
The case was investigated by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, the Kirkland Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson. Ms. Gregson is a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the King County Prosecutor’s Office specially designated to prosecute child exploitation cases in federal court.