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Press Release

Spanaway man sentenced to 15 years in prison for production and distribution of images of child molestation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant shared explicit photos he made of sleeping 11-year-old

Tacoma, Washington – A Spanaway, Washington, man who made sexually explicit images of an 11-year-old child and traded the child’s underwear for more images of child rape, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 15 years in prison announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  DONNIE BARNES, SR., 52, was convicted in October 2019 of production of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography following a two-day jury trial.  At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “It is hard to describe” how serious these types of offenses are in terms “real harm.”  The victims of these offenses themselves face a “life sentence” of “pain we cannot know.”  

“This defendant horribly betrayed the trust of not only the child but the child’s parent and caregiver,” said U.S. Attorney Moran.  “I commend the international cooperation that uncovered this crime and put an end to this predatory behavior.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial in February 2018, BARNES came to the attention of law enforcement when a police detective in Queensland, Australia, noticed a suspicious file on a public photo-sharing website.  The album showed close-up photos of a child’s genitals.  In an undercover persona, the officer commented on the photos and received emails the next day from BARNES describing the child in sexual terms and revealing BARNES’ relationship to the child.

In early March 2018, agents with Homeland Security Investigations searched  BARNES’ residence in Spanaway.  When interviewed by law enforcement, BARNES admitted photographing the child while the child was asleep and uploading the images to the internet.  Additionally, BARNES told officers he had traded soiled underwear from the child for additional images of child rape to someone seeking such items via Craigslist.  Those images were located on an electronic storage device in BARNES’ home.

Following his prison term, BARNES will be on lifetime supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Queensland Police Service (QPS).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Hampton and Lyndsie Schmalz.

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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals better who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


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

Updated March 3, 2020

Project Safe Childhood