Description: Yakima, Washington criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with producing images of child pornography depicting minor boys in the Philippines.
Allen Richard Smith, 66, of Richland, Washington, first came to the attention of law enforcement because Facebook reported that he was distributing images of child pornography on Facebook from April 2019 through May 2020. Special Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) and the Richland Police Department sought and obtained search warrants for Smith’s social media accounts, and discovered significant amounts of child pornography that Smith had sent and received. In his accounts, Smith also had numerous ongoing conversations with other adult men in which Smith remotely directed the real-time recording of hands-on sexual abuse of destitute boys in the Philippines who were as young as 8 years old.
Among the computers and digital devices that law enforcement officers seized from Smith’s residence in Richland was a Dell PC, whose hard drive contained a folder named “Allen’s files” and a subfolder Smith named “FB & Twitter Friends from Around the World – Collection of Pics & Vids.” In that file, Smith specifically identified his victims with highly-detailed lists of the boys’ names, ages, and locations. Law enforcement identified numerous victims from around the United States and the rest of the world. For one minor victim in Guatemala, Smith even transferred funds to the child’s mother in exchange for images of child pornography.
In October 2017, Smith traveled to the Philippines in person. The Filipino authorities checked Smith’s records, learned that he was a registered sex offender based on a prior conviction in Benton County Superior Court for two counts of First Degree Child Molestation, and denied him entry.
Law enforcement officers were able to locate and interview several of Smith’s victims, although many more could not be identified with certainty. Several of Smith’s victims described him seeking them out online and offering them money or cell phone minutes in exchange for them performing sex acts on video for Smith. Where it was possible to do so, American law enforcement and diplomatic officers worked with local authorities to remove children from dangerous situations.
“It is serious enough that Defendant – a convicted and registered sex offender – repeatedly traded, collected, and produced crime-scene videos of young boys being sexually abused. But his conduct was even worse: he specifically sought out vulnerable, deeply-impoverished children in foreign countries and offered money in exchange for sexual access. Mr. Smith’s conduct demonstrates a shocking and callous objectification of vulnerable victims,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref. “This case highlights the importance of vigilance against all forms of child exploitation. Law enforcement learned about Mr. Smith based solely on images that Facebook reported, but the thorough investigation revealed his conduct was even more severe than downloading images from the Internet. It is only because we take child pornography so seriously that authorities were able to apprehend a person who perpetrated repeated hands-on sexual abuse of many vulnerable boys from around the world.”
“Mr. Smith’s conduct demonstrates the lengths to which child abusers go to exploit their victims and share this graphic material across the Internet,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “I cannot stress enough to parents how important it is for them to know who their children interact with online, just as much as they know who their children spend time with in real life. Protection of victims is a global priority for HSI, whether they are in Richland and the Tri-Cities or the Philippines and Guatemala. In cases like this, our Project Angel Watch prevents and deters further exploitation of children by alerting authorities to the international travel plans of individuals convicted of sex crimes against children.”
“Cases like this demonstrate how child exploitation cases defy traditional jurisdictions,” said Richland Police Chief Brigit Clary. “We know these offenders leverage technology to feed their destructive lifestyle, but we are committed to using our skills, our technology, and our partnerships to pursue these offenders, even across international borders, to deliver justice for our children.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Southeast Regional ICAC Task Force, and the Richland Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire and David M. Herzog, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 25 years in prison.