Seattle – A 33-year-old Seattle man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 8 years in prison and 15 years of supervised release for three federal felonies involving sexual exploitation of children. Gary Stensland was arrested August 5, 2020, and on February 18, 2021, pleaded guilty to interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. At the sentencing hearing Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said, “This is a disturbing and troubling case, and a very sad case…. One of the evils of the internet is how it has substantially increased the exploitation of children all around the world.”
According to records filed in the case, in September 2018, Stensland traveled to Portland to meet a 13-year-old whom he had contacted via an internet app. Stensland returned to Seattle with the minor and paid the minor for sex. Stensland then drove the youth back to Portland. The youth disclosed the abuse in summer 2020.
On August 5, 2020, the FBI, as part of the Seattle Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, executed a search warrant at Stensland’s residence and seized his electronic devices. The investigation revealed Stensland sexually assaulted other minors as well as trafficked in images and videos of child sexual abuse.
Chief Judge Martinez agreed to recommend a federal prison in Texas which has a highly regarded program for treating sex offenders. “I think he is serious about wanting to make changes,” Chief Judge Martinez said. Addressing Stensland the Chief Judge said, “I hope you utilize the time (in prison) to work on these issues.”
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 is being investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.