Crime

This chef enticed teen girls online. A federal judge served up 20 years

Jonathan P. Holden was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for 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 was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for 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 Spokane chef convicted of child sex crimes said he is brokenhearted for not only the pain and devastation he caused his young victims, family and friends but also the life he could have had.

Jonathan P. Holden, 44, choked back tears Thursday as he told a federal judge he takes full responsibility for his actions and deserves whatever sentence he was given.

“I know that saying ‘I’m sorry’ cannot undo my actions ...,” Holden said in Richland’s U.S. District Court. “I can only hope the victims can receive healing, and that I can get the help that I need.”

Holden was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. could have ordered up to life, but accepted the plea agreement and sentencing recommendation from both federal prosecutors and the defense.

Attorney Andrea K. George said Holden likely will spend about 17 years locked up with credit for both the time he’s done in the county jail while facing charges and potential good behavior while in prison.

The case against Holden unfolded in the months after he initially was nabbed for trying to have sex with a 13-year-old girl in Richland.

A later search of his electronic devices and online data storage revealed a “cornucopia” of sexual conversations Holden had with both children and adults around the nation that he met through Craigslist.

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

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He enticed two of them to send homemade videos of themselves in suggestive positions, but a third ended her chats with Holden after getting his request for nude pictures.

Holden had been talking online with two of those girls the day before his Feb. 6 arrest in Richland as part of a Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children sting.

The 13-year-old girl in that case actually was an undercover detective who had replied to Holden’s ad.

But another real girl, a teen in the Spokane area, then disclosed during the investigation that she previously had been touched inappropriately by Holden.

Holden’s guilty plea in October was part of a so-called global plea resolution involving both federal and state cases.

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U.S. District Court in Richland’s Federal Building.

The federal crime was attempted online enticement of a minor, attempted production of child pornography and two counts of producing child pornography.

On Thursday, prosecutors dismissed two charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Holden next will return to Benton County Superior Court to wrap up that end of the deal.

His attempted second-degree child rape charge for the Richland arrest will be amended to communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Then, instead of being transferred to Spokane for a third hearing, a charge of second-degree child molestation will be added to his Benton County case to represent the Spokane victim.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Herzog talked Thursday about a letter to the court from the Spokane girl. The letter has been sealed in the court file.

Herzog described the letter as both eloquent and heartbreaking as the girl explained her attempt to change her appearance in response to Holden’s conduct so he would find her “less sexually enticing.”

“She had to shift (her identity) to de-sexualize herself. She shouldn’t have to do that,” Herzog said.

He also told the court that Holden discussed his sexual fantasies in online chats with adult women. Then, after reading the history of chats, investigators interviewed the Spokane girl and learned he had acted on those fantasies.

George said her client is “a man who was married, had a good job and had what appeared, at least on the outside, to be a very good life.” Online records show he has since divorced.

Holden suffers from both alcohol addiction and sex addiction, and if the latter didn’t have such a stigma “perhaps he would have sough treatment before any of this got to where it did,” said George.

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George asked that Judge Mendoza recommend Holden be placed in the federal prison in Seagoville, Texas. That facility has a sex offender management program and is close to Holden’s sister, she said.

Holden was a longtime chef who lived in Mead.

Holden said he hopes he can serve as an example to anyone with an addiction, that they might have the courage to say something and get help before it is too late.

He added that he has sorrow and regret and wants to ask for forgiveness, but knows he does not deserve it.

Mendoza, noting that Holden was “involved heavily with church” and said he doesn’t believe he is an evil person.

“The conduct that you engaged in, I can tell you, was evil,” said Mendoza. He said it is for others to decide whether to give forgiveness to Holden.

“I’m not going to be the moral authority on that. Your conduct was certainly reprehensible,” he added. “Your life is not over, but what you do going forward is going to help determine who you are, and I hope that you take advantage of the programs that are available.”

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.

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