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Eastern Washington man sentenced to 25 years for child pornography charge

April 16, 2021 Updated Fri., April 16, 2021 at 9:13 p.m.

A man in his 30s who pleaded guilty to pressuring minors to send nude photos, including a developmentally disabled 15-year-old girl, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison this week, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.

As law enforcement investigated then-32-year-old James Lee Crooker of Yakima for requesting nudes from the 15-year-old, Facebook alerted them that Crooker was also communicating sexually with a 13-year-old in Ohio, who had taken and sent naked photos to Crooker at his request, the release said.

In November 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed another local child who investigators believed to be a witness. That child revealed that she had also been in a sexual relationship with Crooker, who asked her repeatedly for naked photos, according to the release.

“The lengthy sentence imposed today demonstrates the severity of Crooker’s criminal conduct,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Harrington said in the release. “I commend the outstanding work of our federal and state partners who worked collaboratively in the investigation of this case.”

Chief Judge Bastian told Crooker he gave him credit for pleading guilty to attempted production of child pornography, but “you have accepted responsibility reluctantly and late,” according to the release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office pursued the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section to find and prosecute people who exploit children, the release said.

Investigators in the case included FBI, Yakima Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the release said. Alison Gregoire, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, prosecuted Crooker.

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