A Bellingham sex offender was sentenced last week to serve 2 years in prison for possessing child porn, in an investigation that began when a preteen girl told police she’d been raped.
Timothy Allan Brown pleaded guilty in May to one count of second-degree possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis approved a plea deal last week, handing down the sentence above the standard of 13 to 17 months in Washington state for someone with Brown's record.
The investigation began shortly after the victim's mother brought her to St. Joseph hospital for a sex crime examination in June 2016, when she reported she’d been raped by a man she met online. The girl told police she met the man on collarspace.com, a website for adults into bondage and other sexual fetishes. She ran away from home to meet up with him. The girl reported the man pulled her into his car, blindfolded her, and raped her.
The girl was 11, but claimed she was 18 on the website. Charging papers note the girl is “small in stature,” however, and that she clearly appears to be a juvenile.
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Bellingham police got warrants to search the profile of the suspect, who went by Sadisticdaddy666 on the fetish site. Investigators found chat logs where he gave directions to his home. Later, the suspect reminded the girl he’d taken her virginity. She ignored him, but he kept messaging: “Have you forgotten the nudes I took of you?”
An email address on the account led police to Brown, 32, a Level I sex offender living in a Bellingham apartment. Brown had been convicted five years earlier of uploading child pornography to Photobucket.com from a shared computer at another Bellingham apartment complex. In that case he confessed he’d arranged meetings online with underage girls, but denied following through.
Level I sex offenders are considered the least likely to re-offend. Brown finished his probation from that case in December 2015, six months before the girl reported she was raped.
Police served another warrant on Brown’s home July 14, 2016, and officers found 198 images of child pornography on his laptop, according to a summary of police reports in the court file. Twenty-four of the images showed the Bellingham girl, in suggestive or explicit poses. A background in the photos matched Brown’s home, according to police.
Two days after the girl spoke with a detective, her family moved across the country with her and without telling police – and authorities found that suspicious. That aspect of the case has been passed along to Child Protective Services.
Meanwhile, Brown was charged with communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, but not child rape. A prosecutor, Eric Richey, noted DNA tests from the sex crime exam “did not support a charge for rape of a child in the first degree” against Brown. And although the chat log suggests something sexual happened, the state had lost its key witness and could not press charges of rape, Richey said.