February 8, 1995

Molester jailed after police find child porn

Bonnie Harris The Spokesman-Review
 

A repeat child molester is behind bars again, just a few months after his parole supervision expired.

Charles E. Smith, 24, was arrested last week for shoplifting at a North Side Tidyman’s store, Spokane police said.

After he was cited for the misdemeanor, the unemployed man tossed a wallet into a garbage can at the store’s office. Security officers later looked through the billfold and found five pornographic photographs of children.

Detective Jerry Keller asked for a warrant for Smith’s arrest. Police found the sex offender three days later and booked him into the Spokane County Jail on Friday. He remained there late Tuesday on a charge of having photographs of minors engaging in explicit sex, a felony. Bail is set at $2,500.

The children in the photographs range from 5 to 11 years in age, said Keller, who believes the pictures came from a European child pornography magazine.

“He just has this fascination with kids - little kids,” Keller. “He’s a predator who’s a real danger to little girls.”

Smith was under parole supervision for a year before it expired in October 1994. The supervision was a requirement for his release from jail after being convicted of third-degree child molestation in 1992.

In that case, he admitted sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl and was investigated, but not charged, with molesting a 2-year-old girl and her 3-yearold brother.

A few months after his release from jail for that conviction, Smith was arrested again for hanging around two North Side schools - something he was forbidden to do, said Stacey Vandemark, his parole officer.

Smith served 212 days in jail for that violation.

During that time, he had moved in with a woman convicted of bizarre sex crimes. Helen Allen, E2920 Broad, served prison time in Idaho for coaxing a teenage girl into having sex with an older man and then trying to sell him photographs.

After last week’s arrest, Allen told police she can hardly sleep because she worries about Smith’s strange behavior. She said Smith keeps pictures of children cut from catalogs in a secret hiding place in the ceiling above his bed and sneaks out of the house at 2 a.m.

“He wasn’t staying away from children at first,” Vandemark said. “He was following them home, watching them at the ball fields and helping them cross the streets.”

After serving time for a 1993 parole violation, Vandemark said Smith got a job at the Salvation Army and reported to her every time he was told. He also made small payments on his $210 debt for court fees on his prior conviction.

Finally, Smith’s supervision expired Oct. 25 and Vandemark no longer could order him to meet with her or to stay away from children, parks, playgrounds or schools.

“I tried to convince him that the restrictions still applied anyway, but he knew there was nothing legally we could do,” Vandemark said. “He knew.”

A week before his shoplifting arrest, Smith applied for a janitor’s job at the YMCA. He was being considered for the job until employees spotted a flier with his picture on it as a registered sex offender on the bulletin board.

“They’ve got a nursery there, youth groups, all kinds of stuff,” Keller said. “Can you imagine? He’d have been in heaven.”

As a juvenile, Smith was listed as a suspect in 17 sexual assaults on children, Vandemark said. He underwent treatment in Montana for sex offenders when he was 15 and continued the sessions until he was 21. Then he moved to Spokane.

Keller said Smith now faces three to five years in prison if found guilty of being in possession of the photographs.

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