U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
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News Release
Rosalia Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Federal Prison and Lifetime Supervised Release for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor - 08/02/22

Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Philip Marion Harthill, age 74, of Rosalia, Washington, was sentenced in federal court in Spokane for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor. United States Senior District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson sentenced Harthill to 120 months to be followed by a life term of supervised release. In announcing the sentence, Judge Peterson emphasized that “the damage to children” caused by Harthill’s crimes is very “real.” Judge Peterson continued, “This is damage they will carry with them for their whole lives – damage to both the children and the families, who are impacted.” Judge Peterson further expressed that a 10-year sentence was necessary notwithstanding Harthill’s age.  Harthill had entered a guilty plea on April 19, 2022. 

According to court documents, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) discovered in early 2019 that Harthill was transmitting child pornography online through Skype. Later that year, Harthill began an online chat via social media sites regarding Harthill’s sexual interest in minor children, particularly girls, who were ten-years old and older. During these communications, Harthill used the Kik Messenger to send at least two images containing child pornography.  Harthill also used Kik to solicit additional child pornography.

Based on Harthill’s transmittal and solicitation of child pornography, Federal agents executed a search warrant at Harthill’s residence and seized several electronic devices, including Harthill’s laptop computer. On the laptop, investigators discovered 1,455 videos and 531 images of child pornography, including a split-screen video of Harthill sexually interacting with a young child, who stated she was nine years old and lives in another country. 

During the investigation, Harthill agreed to speak with law enforcement and admitted to downloading, trading, and viewing child pornography for about five years.  Harthill further admitted to sexually communicating online with underage girls, who were between 12 to 15 years old. In his statement, Harthill also admitted he would sometimes falsely portray himself as being 19 years old to his victims. 

“This case is a stark reminder that sexual predators do not always fit a specific profile and, in some cases, may be the person you least suspect,” United States Attorney Waldref said. “Mr. Harthill used everyday internet applications like Skype and Kik to exploit the most vulnerable among us.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “Today’s sentence is necessary to prevent Mr. Harthill from harming other children, and it should serve as a warning to those who victimize children: Our office is committed to prioritizing and aggressively pursuing cases involving online predators and holding them accountable for victimizing the most innocent members of our community.”

 “Harthill exploited children by sharing their images with other child pornographers around the world,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “The resolve of HSI agents working both in the U.S. and overseas has resulted in a sentence that will hopefully provide some ease to those affected by his horrendous actions and keep Harthill behind bars, not behind a computer.”

This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:

  • Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
  • Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
  • Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
  • Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
  • Community awareness and educational programs.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Washington State Police. This case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington. 

2:19-CR-217-RMP

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