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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

74-year-old Whitman County man sentenced to 10 years for sexual enticement of a child online

Aug. 2, 2022 Updated Tue., Aug. 2, 2022 at 8:53 p.m.

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane. (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A 74-year-old man from Rosalia, Washington, will spend a decade in federal prison after pleading guilty to enticing a child for sexual purposes.

Philip M. Harthill pleaded guilty in April to a charge of coercion or enticement of a minor. Federal investigators with the Department of Homeland Security caught Harthill transmitting via Skype an image of child pornography, in addition to communicating with an undercover officer from the United Kingdom about his sexual interest in girls, according to court documents.

Investigators seized Harthill’s computer, on which they found nearly 1,500 video files and more than 500 images of child pornography, according to court documents. One of those videos included Harthill video chatting with a girl, who said she was 9 years old and living in another country, during which Harthill requested she display her genitalia, according to court records.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson handed down the sentence in federal court in Spokane on Tuesday. In addition to the 10-year prison sentence, Harthill must remain on supervised release for the rest of his life.

Harthill had requested the 10-year sentence given his age.

“His offense is serious, but he poses little risk of recidivism, and given his age and the nature of the offense, a 10-year sentence is sufficient but not more than necessary,” Harthill’s attorney wrote, noting that he was driven to online communication after the death of his wife in 2014.

U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref noted that Harthill used common internet programs to communicate with victims, including Skype and other messaging services.

“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,” Waldref said in a statement.

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