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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kennewick man gets 20 years in prison in Snapchat child pornography case

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

A 24-year-old Kennewick man who admitted to soliciting sexual images from children as young as 6 years old via Snapchat has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Jaiden G. Petersen was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Court Senior Judge William Fremming Nielsen after pleading guilty in December to two counts of producing child pornography. The sentence includes a requirement that Petersen remain on supervision for the rest of his life, and he was ordered to pay $23,400 in restitution to four victims in the case.

The investigation began with a tip to the FBI from SnapChat indicating Petersen had received child pornography at a home in Spokane Valley, according to court records. They found Petersen at a house in Spokane, where they seized his electronics and gained access to his SnapChat account. On those devices, they found more than 1,000 child pornography images and 10 videos, according to court records. Some of those images included a child who had been a victim of another producer of child pornography in Eastern Washington.

One of the victims told authorities she’d met Petersen on Xbox Live, a popular online gaming service. Petersen had babysat one of the other victims.

The case was investigated by the FBI through the Justice Department’s “Project Safe Childhood” initiative, a 17-year-old push to target sexual exploitation of children online, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern Washington announcing the sentence.

“This case unfortunately serves as a stark reminder of the need to educate children, even young teenagers, of the dangers that lurk online,” Vanessa Waldref, U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, said in a statement.

The settlement also includes a more than 12-year sentence in Spokane County Superior Court for a charge of child molestation. That sentence will be served at the same time as Petersen’s federal sentence. He was listed in custody of the Spokane County Jail as of late Thursday morning.