ICE, local law enforcement partner, investigation results in 30 month sentence for Issaquah man convicted of possession of child pornography
SEATTLE - A 61-year-old Issaquah, Washington, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison for possession of child pornography, announced Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Robert Hammer and U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. Philip B. Gilbert, who was employed in the IT department of the Archdiocese of Seattle, was arrested on state charges in May 2019. He was charged federally in October 2019 and pleaded guilty in June 2020. At the sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that Gilbert will be transferred to custody in California where he is charged with sexual assault and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
According to documents in the case, in January 2019 an electronic service provider reported Gilbert's account to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for uploading images of child rape and molestation. After obtaining a court-authorized search warrant, law enforcement served the warrant at Gilbert's residence and seized electronic devices. The devices contained 256 images of child pornography.
Following Gilbert's arrest, a victim came forward to law enforcement and reported Gilbert molested her. Contra Costa County, California, has charged the defendant with multiple sexual abuse crimes against a minor for which he faces life in prison. Following his federal sentence, he will be transferred to California to resolve those charges. On the federal case, Chief Judge Martinez imposed ten years of supervised release to follow prison and $12,000 in restitution to the victims depicted in the various child pornography series that Gilbert possessed.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
HSI is a worldwide leader in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. Prior to the creation of the agency in 2003, legacy U.S. Customs special agents investigated the disbursement of illegal child pornography that was often sent by mail or purchased overseas. With the advent of the Internet, the sharing and trading of child pornography now primarily occurs online. In addition to the legacy expertise, HSI special agents also have the authority to investigate the illegal movement of people and goods across U.S. borders, and because the Internet is borderless, the sharing of contraband online is an international crime. An image on the Web of a child being sexually abused can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world. Operation Predator draws on the agency's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. And, with 200 U.S. offices and more than 70 offices overseas, HSI has the ability to follow a case – to rescue a victim or arrest a predator – wherever in the world it may lead.
Collaborating with law enforcement partners around the country and the world, Operation Predator brings together an array of resources to target these child predators. As part of the effort:
- HSI participates on all 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces across the United States, which are led by state and local law enforcement agencies.
- HSI established a National Victim Identification Program at its Cyber Crimes Center, combining the latest technology with traditional investigative techniques to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation.
- HSI is the U.S. representative to the Interpol working group that locates new child sexual abuse material on the Internet and refers cases to the country that the abuse is believed to be occurring in for further investigation. Also, HSI special agents stationed internationally work with foreign governments, Interpol and others to enhance coordination and cooperation on crimes that cross borders.
- HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other federal agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children.
- HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, joining law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners around the world to fight child exploitation information and images that travel over the Internet.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; TTY for hearing impaired: (802) 872-6196. This hotline is staffed around-the-clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may also be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or https://report.cybertip.org/.
You can help by reporting suspected abuse or by providing tips regarding fugitives and unknown suspects.
The case was a collaborative investigation between ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the King County Sheriff's Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson.