Crime

His attempt to hook up with a teen girl in Richland led officers to find child porn

Jonathan P. Holden, 44, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple child pornography charges. The evidence against the Spokane area man was discovered after his arrest in Richland for allegedly trying to meet up with a teen girl. He's pictured talking with attorney Caleb DiPeso during a February hearing in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick.
Jonathan P. Holden, 44, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple child pornography charges. The evidence against the Spokane area man was discovered after his arrest in Richland for allegedly trying to meet up with a teen girl. He's pictured talking with attorney Caleb DiPeso during a February hearing in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick. Tri-City Herald

A search of an alleged child predator's phone and tablet has led to multiple federal charges involving minors around the country.

Jonathan P. Holden, 44, "used Craigslist to engage in sexual conversations" with children and adults as he traveled for work, according to federal prosecutors.

After arresting him in February for trying to meet up with a 13-year-old girl in Richland, investigators uncovered sex videos that a naked 15-year-old girl sent to Holden when he asked, along with evidence of other illicit conduct, prosecutors said.

The Spokane-area man — who used the chat handle "Bun Mert" — lost his traveling job after his initial arrest, but he remains a "danger all around the country," Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Herzog said during a detention hearing this week.

Holden was indicted June 20 by a federal grand jury on six counts: attempted enticement of a minor; attempted production of child porn; receipt of child porn; possession of child porn and two counts of production of child porn.

He had been out of custody since posting bond May 2 on his Benton County Superior Court case.

Defense attorneys argued that in those seven weeks he was free, Holden held down two part-time jobs including as a chef, stayed off the internet and didn't try to run even though he knew other charges were coming.

They proposed more restrictive conditions of release instead of incarceration.

But Magistrate Judge Mary K. Dimke called it an "incredible series of allegations" that date to August 2015, including explicit chats with children, eliciting them to create their own child porn and planning sexual activities once they met up.

Dimke agreed with prosecutors and ordered Holden to remain behind bars until his scheduled Aug. 20 trial in U.S. District Court.

Holden is being held as a contract inmate at the Benton County jail.

His Superior Court case for attempted second-degree child rape is moving forward with a July 30 trial date.

According to court documents, Holden posted a Craigslist ad in the "casual encounters" section for sex with a woman. The ad said "age, size, race, looks, marital status" did not matter.

Detectives with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force responded as a 13-year-old girl.

Holden acknowledged the young age in ensuing messages and went into graphic detail about what he would do with the girl once in his hotel room, documents said.

He allegedly asked the girl how soon they could get together, and declined requests to share a picture of himself even though he had no problem sending a photo to adult women.

Holden drove to Richland on Feb. 6 and tried to meet up with the girl, first at a fast-food restaurant and then at a park.

Instead he was met by task force members with handcuffs.

Herzog, the federal prosecutor, said in court that Holden gave investigators permission to search his devices and online data storage.

In one online exchange, Holden said "the younger, the better," Herzog said. He "engaged in some of the most explicit rape fantasy language that the government has seen."

The 15-year-old girl agreed to send videos of herself in suggestive positions, but a 17-year-old Texas girl ended her chats with Holden after he asked for nude pictures of her, the prosecutor said.

"As the court knows, the internet goes everywhere. He can't be out in the community because he will engage in this conduct," Herzog said.

Detaining Holden pending trial is the only way to protect girls of this community and every other community around the country, he said.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Dahlberg said he didn't think Holden was "blatantly seeking out young people." He also reminded the court that while his client is accused, he has not been found guilty of the allegations.

Dimke had concerns that one of Holden's jobs in recent weeks had been at an ice cream shop, and said there was a "clear and convincing danger" to the community if he were to be released.

If convicted of the child porn production charges, Holden faces a federal sentence of 15 to 30 years.

While the attempted enticement of a minor charge has a 10-year mandatory minimum term, it can result in a lifetime sentence.

The standard range on the Superior Court case for attempted child rape is four years and 10 months to six years and four months.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531
  Comments