TACOMA, Wash. — A Kelso man made his initial appearance before a federal judge Wednesday on charges of producing, distributing and possessing child pornography following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kelso Police Department.
Jonathan Scott Lee, 37, was discovered by New Zealand authorities sharing child pornography over the Internet. They alerted U.S. officials who linked the Internet protocol address sharing the illicit images to Lee's home. When HSI special agents executed a search warrant at his residence, Lee was not home. They showed a sanitized version of one of the explicit photos to another resident who was there. That resident was able to identify the child pictured in the photo. When Lee arrived at the home he was placed under arrest. A review of other digital evidence in the house revealed additional child pornography.
If convicted, Lee faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by an ICE attorney specially designated by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington to prosecute cases in federal court.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.