Crime

Chef admits to leaving trail of child victims from Atlanta to Richland

Jonathan P. Holden, 44, pleaded guilty to federal charges involving the online enticement of a teen girl in Richland and the request for child pornographic pictures from other teens around the country.
Jonathan P. Holden, 44, pleaded guilty to federal charges involving the online enticement of a teen girl in Richland and the request for child pornographic pictures from other teens around the country. Tri-City Herald

A day before he drove 150 miles to Richland to have sex with a 13-year-old girl, a Spokane-area man was online encouraging two teens in other states to send him obscene pictures and videos.

An emotional Jonathan P. Holden wiped away tears Thursday as he pleaded guilty to federal charges that involve three real underage victims.

The fourth “victim” in U.S. District Court was an undercover detective who pretended to be a teen girl.

Holden, 44, accepted a so-called global plea resolution, which includes his original case in Benton County Superior Court and an as-yet uncharged crime from Spokane County.

The Spokane case involves a young teen girl — a fourth real victim — who was touched inappropriately by Holden, according to the plea agreement. Both state cases will be handled in Benton County in the near future.

Holden told Judge Sal Mendoza Jr., “Nobody forced me to do it. I knew what I was doing.”

The longtime Spokane chef faces a recommended sentence of 20 years in federal prison, followed by 20 years on supervised release.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 10 at the Richland Federal Building.

Holden attracted the attention of the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force when he posted a Craigslist ad seeking a sexual encounter.

A detective responded as a 13-year-old girl, prompting Holden to go into graphic detail about what he wanted to do with her, court documents show.

Holden drove to Richland on Feb. 6 to meet her, first at a fast-food restaurant and then a nearby park. He was met by task force members instead of a teen.

That case of attempted child rape case was moving through Benton County Superior Court when searches of Holden’s electronic devices and accounts showed that over several years he was communicating on various online platforms with “bona fide minor victims.”

Those victims included a 13-year-old girl in Atlanta, a 15-year-old girl in Las Vegas and a 17-year-old girl in Houston.

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He’d been talking online with two of them the day before he was arrested in Richland.

“With each of these victims, (Holden) solicited images of child pornography of each victim after learning that she was a minor,” documents said. “... The defendant acknowledges that he received and possessed the images of child pornography that his victims sent him.”

In 2016, the 13-year-old Atlanta girl told Holden she was 17 when they chatted online. He engaged in “a detailed rape fantasy” with the girl, sent naked pictures of himself and asked her to do the same while doing various acts, even though he knew it would qualify as child pornography under federal law, court documents said.

The girl sent some pictures.

Then, the day before his arrest in February 2018, Holden talked with a girl in Las Vegas. She too claimed to be 17, and followed his requests for sexualized images of herself.

At the same time, Holden was talking to the girl in Texas. She told him truthfully that she was 17 and declined to send a video, saying she was “looking for something less sexual,” documents said.

Holden offered to pay her $500 a week to be a long-term contact with the intent of meeting someday. The girl ended the conversation without sending anything over the internet.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in June.

It was during the investigation that police also learned about the girl in Mead near Spokane, who said she was sexually assaulted by Holden.

His guilty plea in federal court was to attempted online enticement of a minor, attempted production of child pornography and two counts of producing child pornography.

When he’s sentenced, prosecutors will dismiss two charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

In Superior Court, the attempted child rape charge will be amended to communications with a minor for immoral purposes. A charge of second-degree child molestation will be added for the Spokane County case.

Documents show that time on the state cases will be served at the same time with the federal prison term.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer
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