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Child Exploitation

Ex-Seattle Times employee sentenced to 25 years on child pornography charges

SEATTLE — A former Seattle Times employee was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison and a lifetime supervised release on child pornography charges stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Richard Flores, 58, came to HSI's attention after his employer reported to Seattle Police that Flores had downloaded child pornography onto his work computer. The ensuing HSI investigation led to the discovery of 6,800 pornographic images and videos. Investigators also found that Flores had been previously convicted in King County Superior Court of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in connection with the molestation of two young girls.

"This investigation revealed what we find all too often in these cases, that child pornography suspects are frequently involved in the actual sexual abuse of children," said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "Children have the right to be safe from predators. That's why we will continue to vigorously investigate these cases and seek justice for the victims."

Flores pleaded guilty to the charges last November. According to the plea agreement, Flores admitted that in February and March 2011, while at work, he downloaded child pornography onto his work computer. He then transferred the child pornography to an external thumb drive and later distributed the child pornography using his Yahoo Flickr account.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Flores is required to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.

The investigation is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.