Bill Worden is a classic car enthusiast who has traveled the country for decades to shows and swap meets.
In early 2016, the Richland grandfather wanted to share a picture of a vintage car with other users on the Jalopy Journal website.
But what he left on the forum was a hyperlink to 12 sexually explicit screenshots condensed into one image, all showing a nude 5-year-old girl and a nude man.
The posting by the longtime forum user is believed to have been an accident, and he eventually deleted the link.
However, it didn’t go unnoticed by fellow users and the site administrator, who reported the post to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
On Tuesday, Worden was ordered to serve six months in federal prison, followed by 20 years on supervised release with the first year on electronic home monitoring.
He will have to register as a sex offender.
Worden — who turns 77 in less than a month — already has spent just over a year on location monitoring while awaiting trial since he was indicted in May 2017.
Richland detectives discovered 3,500 images of child pornography on his home computer. They could not determine if another 1,000 sexually explicit images were of adults or children.
There is no evidence that Worden was sexually abusing a child and producing his own child pornography, or that he was distributing it.
Worden, a retired design engineer at Hanford, pleaded guilty in March in U.S. District Court to one count of possessing child pornography. A second charge for receipt of child pornography was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Senior Judge Ed Shea recognized Worden’s age, health issues, remorse, extensive support network and the fact he’s been in counseling since police opened their investigation two years ago.
But Worden’s “behavior in this regard was bewildering” because, even though he led a law-abiding life, he had an unusual interest in child pornography and viewed and possessed “a huge number of images on your computer,” the judge said.
“This was not a one-time incident or casual mistake or a day or two where you succumbed to your weakness,” said Shea.
Worden did not just wander into an online child pornography room. He had to seek it out, entering specific search terms for chat rooms and websites, Shea said.
“It is inexplicable for people to think they can go on a computer, look at websites and think they’re insulated from discovery,” he said. “I can’t explain your behavior. ... You committed a very serious crime. It was not aberrational.”
A conviction in federal court for possessing child porn typically carries a sentence between 6 1/2 years and 8 years and one month. The plea agreement went below that with a recommendation between no time and four years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Herzog asked for the top, while defense attorney Adam Pechtel said zero time behind bars was more appropriate.
Probation officer Carrie Valencia recommended one day in custody and 12 months on home detention.
She acknowledged that “his behavior does fuel an industry that victimizes the most vulnerable in our community,” but pointed out that he has taken responsibility and revealed the details of his case to loved ones, knowing there is a stigma attached to what he has done.
His adult granddaughter has severed ties with him, Valencia added.
Worden apologized to the children in those images “for the anguish and embarrassment” he caused them by viewing it. He also apologized for taking the court’s time and for disappointing and placing a burden on his friends and family.
He choked up when talking about his wife, saying this is not what she signed up for 54 years ago, but she has been a rock.
Prior to sentencing, Worden paid $74,000 in restitution and a $5,000 assessment as part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.