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Twelve men in Whatcom County sex sting arraigned, trials set.

'This is eye-opening:" Authorities discuss child sex sting in Whatcom County

A team of law enforcement agencies nabbed 20 men this month in a sting that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors. Listen to the press conference Monday, Dec. 18 about the sting and subsequent arrests.
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A team of law enforcement agencies nabbed 20 men this month in a sting that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors. Listen to the press conference Monday, Dec. 18 about the sting and subsequent arrests.

Twelve of the 20 men arrested in the undercover Washington State Patrol sting operation two weeks ago that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors pleaded not guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court Friday.

The remaining man, Tanner Matthew Ness, 21, of Woodinville, will be arraigned Jan. 4, because he was seeking mental health treatment.

The seven others pleaded not guilty Dec. 22.

All 20 men were arrested in operation “Net Nanny,” which was conducted by the state patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force. Three of the men had access to 13 children who were at risk of being abused, authorities said.

Some of the men are also being investigated on allegations of sexual misconduct with children. State patrol will work closely with local law enforcement, who also assisted with the sting operation, to follow up on the allegations, WSP Lt. James Mjor said.

This is the 10th sting the state patrol has conducted. A similar operation in the Tri-Cities last summer resulted in 26 arrests. In the last two years, there have been 159 arrests and 22 identified rescued child victims statewide. The agency has a 100 percent conviction rate on the cases that have gone to trial, according to the state patrol.

Steven Johnson, James Ortiz Jr., Dillon Lawson, Aaron Kinley, Jaime Anderson, Marc Archer and Chadwin Hagens plead not-guilty at their arraignment hearing on Friday, Dec. 22, at Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. The seven men were arrested

Some of the men arrested in this sting had convictions for assault or lengthy criminal histories; others had no criminal history. Many of them had access to an assortment of weapons and showed up with them when they went to the meet-up, Mjor said. Several also brought gifts for the children, court and police records show.

Undercover detectives posted or responded to Craigslist ads online advertising for meet-ups of a sexual nature, according to Mjor. Once the men responded, the detectives would either pose as young teenage children, or as parents offering their young children for sexual contact – some as young as 6 years old.

Many of the men arrested used graphic descriptions of sex acts they wanted to perform with the children, or what they wanted the children to do to them, according to court papers filed in the case. Many also sent nude photos of themselves, according to the state patrol.

Probable cause statements for all of those arrested detailed graphic sexual conversations between the men and undercover detectives.

Charges and trial dates

Gilberto Chino Acatitlan: Acatitlan, 28, of Bow, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor. His trial has been set for Feb. 20. Acatitlan remains in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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Gilberto Chino Acatitlan, 28, of Bow stands (far left) Friday wearing a green jail-issued uniform to be arraigned in Whatcom County Superior Court. He is one of 20 men arrested in an undercover Washington State Patrol sting operation that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors. Denver Pratt dpratt@bhamherald.com

Jason Justin Lundberg: Lundberg, 43, of Ferndale, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial has been set for Feb. 20. Lundberg is free on $10,000 bail.

Matthew Allen Severson: Severson, 51, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree rape of a child and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial has been set for March 12. Severson is free on $25,000 bail.

Aaron A. Aguilar: Aguilar, 26, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor. His trial has been set for March 12. Aguilar is free on $20,000 bond.

Simson Duane Assink: Assink, 23, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted first-degree child rape. His trial has been set for March 12. Assink is free on $10,000 bail.

Christopher Michael Brown: Brown, 39, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape. His trial has been set for March 12. Brown is free on $20,000 bail.

Mark Allen Fagin: Fagin, 43, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree child rape, one count of attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree child rape. His trial has been set for March 12. Fagin is free on $30,000 bail.

David Lee Fissori Jr.: Fissori, 40, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted first-degree child rape and attempted second-degree child rape. His trial has been set for Feb. 20. Fissori remains in jail on $20,000 bail.

Mark E. Garst: Garst, 57, of Deming, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree child rape. His trial has been set for March 12. Garst is free on $20,000 bail.

George Vincent Rickle Jr.: Rickle, 66, of Poulsbo, is charged with two counts of attempted second-degree child rape, two counts of attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial has been set for March 12. Rickle is free on $20,000 bail.

Jeffrey Adam Weinstein: Weinstein, 41, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted second-degree child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. His trial has been set for March 12. Weinstein is free on $20,000 bail.

George Milton Welch IV: Welch, 26, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted second-degree child rape, two counts of attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor and one count of attempting to distribute a controlled substance to a person under 18 years old. His trial has been set for Feb. 20. Welch remains in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Most of the other seven men who pleaded not guilty a week ago were charged with attempted child rape, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

Those seven men are:

▪  Jaime Roberto Anderson, 33, of Bellingham

▪  Marc Vincent Archer, 60, of Bellingham

▪  Chadwin Alexander Hagens, 24, of Bellingham

▪  Steven William Johnson, 45, of Bellingham

▪  Aaron Lee Kinley, 26, of Bellingham

▪  Dillon Russell Lawson, 20, of Mount Vernon

▪  James Danny Ortiz Jr., 24, of Everson

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

Charges against Mark Allen Fagin

Mark Allen Fagin is facing a charge of second-degree child rape stemming from a case in 2013. In July of that year, Fagin was charged with second-degree child rape for an incident in 2010, according to court documents.

In May 2013, a then 16-year-old girl contacted the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office to report a rape, court records show. The girl reported that for approximately two years, she and her mother lived with Fagin.

The girl told detectives that Fagin raped her in April 2010, according to court records. She would have been 12 at the time.

The court found probable cause to charge Fagin, but the case was dismissed in June 2014 because the girl relocated to Arizona and was unable to be contacted by prosecutors, court records show.

In the state patrol undercover sting operation, Fagin allegedly responded to an ad where a mother was offering her young daughters, ages 6 and 11, for sex. During the course of the undercover operation, Fagin told an undercover detective that he had sexual experience with children, and added he had been with a 10-year-old before, court records show.

Court papers indicate that those comments prompted prosecutors to re-examine Fagin’s 2013 case – the girl has now been found and the rape charge was added.

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