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Washington State News

TOPPENISH MAN SENTENCED TO 8 YEARS FOR RECEIPT AND DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Yakima, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Robert Ray Root, age 54, of Toppenish, Washington has been sentenced after pleading guilty to Receipt and Distribution of Child Pornography. Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment to be followed by 10 years of supervised release. Root was also ordered to pay a total of $21,000 in restitution to 7 individual victims of his conduct.

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According to court documents, Root had been downloading and sharing child pornography with others online for approximately 30 years when an undercover federal agent downloaded child pornography files from Root in October and November of 2021.  In January 2022, agents executed a search warrant at Root’s home and seized several electronic devices, including a computer with thousands of child pornography images and more than 100 videos.  In addition to admitting the decades’ long interest in and trading of child pornography, Root also admitted to investigators that he had sexually abused a young girl several years earlier.

“Mr. Root spent decades victimizing the most vulnerable among us,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref. “Protecting children from harm remains a priority of my office and is critical to building a safe and strong Eastern Washington community. I am deeply grateful for the work of Homeland Security Investigations, our local partners, and the Internet Crimes Against Children  Task Force, for pursuing those who use technology to exploit our children.”

“Sentences such as this highlight the importance our law enforcement partnerships bring to stopping the scourge of violence against children,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “In this case, our joint efforts stopped decades of exploitation and saved the childhoods of unknown future victims from the lifelong effects of trauma.”

“Having a dedicated southeast regional ICAC task force, in our own backyard, with a great partnership including a Richland PD sergeant and detective at work to bring individuals like Mr. Root to justice, is truly an amazing feat,” said interim Chief for the Richland Police Department, David Neher. “Each member of the ICAC team serves a remarkably crucial role in putting away individuals who have infiltrated our community and taken the innocence of our youth. This sentencing is one we can be proud of, and in the end, it’s the ‘why’ behind what we do every day.”

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of the Yakima Police Department and the Southeast Regional ICAC Task Force, consisting of Richland and Kennewick Police Departments. This case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc.

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