SPOKANE – On October 27, U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Paul Aaron Murray, 49, of Spokane, Washington, to 126 months in federal prison for Possession of Child Pornography.
Murray pleaded guilty on March 28, 2022, the morning that trial in the case was scheduled to begin. Judge Rice also ordered Murray to serve an additional five years on federal supervision after he is released from prison, and Murray will be required to pay $24,000 in restitution to victims and $5,000 to a fund set up for victims who may request restitution in the future. The devices Murray used to commit his crime were ordered forfeited by Judge Rice. In announcing the sentence, Judge Rice referred to the material Murray collected as depicting the extreme abuse of infants and toddlers and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of our society.
According to court documents and proceedings, dating back to 2013, Murray had in interest in, downloaded, and viewed child pornography depicting very young children. In 2017, federal agents downloaded child pornography files from a computer traced to Defendant’s Spokane residence. Agents then obtained and executed a search warrant at Murray’s residence, seizing a number of Murray’s computers, phones, and storage media. Investigators discovered over two million internet searches for child pornography using commonly used terms for such searches. This was in addition to hundreds of child pornography images, videos, and anti-forensic software used to delete files on Murray’s devices.
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, Vanessa R. Waldref, commended the dedication of the investigators and prosecutors who continued to investigate Defendant’s online criminal activity, even while the case was litigated for over four years and credited the substantial sentence to their diligence and pursuit of justice. “Mr. Murray serves as a reminder to us all that child predators may hide in the places we least expect,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “By outward appearances, Mr. Murray was a law-abiding citizen and family man. The sentence imposed reflects that underneath this veneer was a deviant interest in and years-long victimization of the most vulnerable among us.”
Assistant United States Attorney Ann T. Wick, who led the United States’ prosecution in this case, stated, “I am fortunate to work with such incredible law enforcement agents, who work tirelessly to protect children in our communities. While the work is never easy, these agents’ skill, professionalism, and dedication helps ensure that those who victimize the most vulnerable in our community are held accountable and that the victims’ voices are heard.”
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.
This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the United States Department of Homeland Security – Criminal Investigations, with the support of the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes detectives from the Kennewick and Richland Police Departments. This case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick and Alison L. Gregoire, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.