Crime

First of 20 men caught in internet sex sting will spend more than half decade in prison

Trial begins for first of 20 men arrested in State Patrol sex sting operation

Opening statements by the state and defense in the trial of Marc Archer on Tuesday, March 20, in Bellingham. Archer is charged with attempted second-degree rape of a child and attempted communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
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Opening statements by the state and defense in the trial of Marc Archer on Tuesday, March 20, in Bellingham. Archer is charged with attempted second-degree rape of a child and attempted communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

A man caught last December in an undercover internet sex sting operation will spend more than a half decade in prison for communicating and attempting to meet up to have sex with what he believed was a 13-year-old boy.

Marc Vincent Archer, 61, of Bellingham was sentenced in Whatcom County Superior Court Tuesday morning to a minimum of just under 6 ½ years, up to life in prison, according to court records. A jury found Archer guilty March 21 of attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Archer will have to serve the minimum time required on his sentence before the state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board will decide if he’s ready to be released.

The board will review the case, Archer’s criminal history, his in-custody behavior and determine the risk he poses to the community before making their determination. If the board decides he’s not ready to be released, he will be reevaluated every several years, but could remain in prison for life.

If Archer is released, he will be required to register as a sex offender. He would have to remain within a geographic boundary set by the Department of Corrections, avoid contact with minors and places where minors gather, and wouldn’t be allowed to have social media accounts, especially those used to advertise or promote dating, prostitution, or casual relationships. He must also complete a sexual deviancy evaluation and comply with recommended treatment.

Prosecuting attorney Brandon Waldron declined to comment.

Archer’s public defense attorney Starck Follis said he argued for a sentence lower than the standard range, partially because no actual victim was involved in the case. The judge ruled against that request, but did sentence Archer to the lowest time allowed, Starck said.

“He was sentenced to the bottom of the standard range, which reflects his lack of criminal history and his age,” Follis said. “Obviously it’s an unfortunate situation.”

Twenty men in Whatcom and Skagit counties were caught in a sting operation this month that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors - part of the Washington State Patrol's ongoing "Net Nanny" operation.

Archer was one of 20 Whatcom and Skagit county men arrested mid-December by the Washington State Patrol in operation “Net Nanny,” a sting that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors.

Undercover detectives posted ads on Craigslist advertising for meetups of a sexual nature. After the men responded, the detectives would pose as young teenagers or as parents offering up their fictional children - some as young as 6 years old - for sexual contact.

The operation generated hundreds of responses, but the men who were arrested traveled to meet the undercover detectives with the intent to engage in sexual activity with children, according to the State Patrol.

The local operation was the 10th sting the State Patrol conducted.

Archer’s case was the first to be heard. Two other men already have pleaded guilty in the case.

Visiting Skagit County Judge David Svaren found Aaron Lee Kinley, 27, of Bellingham guilty June 13 in a non-jury trial of attempted second-degree rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Kinley’s sentencing date has not yet been set.

Mark Allen Fagin, 43, of Bellingham pleaded guilty June 4 to attempted second-degree rape of a child for his involvement in the Net Nanny sting. Fagin also pleaded guilty to third-degree rape a child related to a separate case stemming from 2013, where he had sex with a then 14-year-old girl in 2010. The case was initially dismissed in June 2014 because the girl relocated to Arizona and was unable to be contacted by prosecutors, but was reopened after Fagin’s December arrest, records show. Fagin’s sentencing for both cases is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The other 17 men's trials have been tentatively set for dates in July, August and September, according to court records.

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.

At Archer’s trial, his attorney public defender Stephen Jackson argued Archer “lived a life of sexual fantasy,” and that he knew he likely wasn’t speaking with a child. Jackson said Archer was engaging in role-playing, which he does while chatting with others, and said people often lie about ages, genders and who they are online.

Waldon said it was clear from Archer’s first email that his intentions were to meet someone for sex. Waldron said Archer knew he was speaking with a child, because when the undercover detective told Archer they were a 13-year-old boy, Archer responded by sending a naked picture of himself and made a comment about how he had never had sex with someone as young as this boy.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
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