TACOMA, Wash. — A 46-year-old man from Battle Ground who took photos of himself molesting his friends' children was sentenced to 15 years in prison for production of child pornography, following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Battle Ground and Vancouver (Washington) police departments and the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
David P. Harlan, pleaded guilty in January 2014 to the charge first lodged in 2010. Following a lead from German law enforcement, investigators obtained a search warrant in March 2010. The search of Harlan's home turned up more than 5,300 images and nearly 200 videos of child pornography on 10 computers and other digital storage media.
According to court records, some of the child pornography was of victims already identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. However, investigators found new pornographic images later determined to be of young children whose parents were friends of Harlan. Through interviews with the victims' parents, investigators learned Harlan had taken some of the photos of a 5-years-old girl in her home, while her mother was busy in the kitchen.
"This case is a sad reminder that most children are victimized by someone they know and trust," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "Fortunately, through this investigation that began halfway around the world in Germany, HSI and its local partners have put an end to Harlan's sexual abuse of children."
Harlan is currently serving a 78-month state sentence for child molestation. His federal sentence will run concurrently. When he is released from federal prison he will be under lifetime court supervision.
This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.