A former Richland photographer who pleaded guilty earlier this week in Benton County to molesting three young children appeared Friday in federal court on child pornography charges.
Sean Challe, 29, faces a six-count federal indictment, which include production, distribution and possession of child pornography.
Magistrate Judge James Hutton entered an innocent plea on his behalf, but Challe is expected to plead guilty April 20 in U.S. District Court.
The sentencing range for the production of child pornography charges is 15 to 30 years in federal prison.
Challe pleaded guilty this week in Benton County Superior Court to sexually assaulting a preschooler and two toddlers. The state charges of child rape and child molestation carry a maximum term of life in prison.
Benton County prosecutors say they will ask for an exceptional sentence of 30 years.
However, a state sentencing review board, with members appointed by the governor, will ultimately decide if Challe will be released back into society.
He likely will serve out his time in federal prison then return to state custody so the review board can determine if he should be released.
Challe was arrested in September after he was caught molesting his friend’s daughter while she slept. Richland detectives reported finding more than 20,000 images of child pornography on storage devices belonging to Challe.
Detectives also identified additional victims during the investigation.
Prosecutors say Challe used his business — Sean Challe Photography — to get close to children. Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb has called the case one of the largest Tri-City child sex offense investigations in recent memory.