When Yasir M. Majeed sat in front of a computer 1 1/2 years ago and chatted with a 13-year-old girl about having sex, the Kennewick man was “more knowledgeable than the average internet user,” a judge said Friday.
Majeed, a longtime IT technician, testified at trial in November that he was aware of the lingo, Snapchat filters and emojis used by people online , said Judge Alex Ekstrom.
“You weren’t a babe in the woods. You knew exactly what was going on because you understood how these platforms worked,” Ekstrom said. “The jury heard your explanation and the jury rejected it.”
The girl on the other end that night may have been fictitious — an undercover detective in the Tri-Cities “Net Nanny Operation” — but Majeed still left his house, drove to the designated Richland apartment complex and waited while continuing to text, before driving away.
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The fact that he did those things, versus someone who stayed home and didn’t act on his impulses, is concerning to the community’s safety, the judge said.
Ekstrom decided Majeed’s conduct deserved 3 1/2 years in a state prison.
He split the difference in the standard range, with the four years prosecutors were recommending and the defense request for three years.
“I do accept your judgment today and I’m willing to do it,” said Majeed, 37, who was taken into custody at the end of the hearing. “I do believe in the system, I do believe in justice. ... I just want to be a (good) citizen and have my life on track.”
A Benton County Superior Court jury convicted Majeed in November of commercial sex abuse of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a charge of attempted child rape.
On Friday, prosecutors announced they were dismissing that charge instead of going forward with a second trial.
Net Nanny sex sting
Majeed was one of 26 men nabbed in a July 2017 sting targeting adults interested in having sexual encounters with minors.
He answered a Craigslist ad posted by an undercover officer claiming to be a young woman looking for an “older daddy.”
Over two days of text messages and emails, Majeed was repeatedly told he was chatting with a 13-year-old runaway. He offered to get a hotel room and pay $100 to make it worth her time.
Majeed testified that he thought it was all “role play,” he kept chatting to figure out if it was a legitimate person on the other end or a scam, and he even tried uploading the girl’s pictures to Google Images to see if they belonged to someone else.
He drove to the designated spot, but left after some time without getting out of his truck.
He had five $20 bills and four condoms when he was arrested.
He told the jury he always carried $100 and condoms, and would have called 911 if he really had come face-to-face with a 13-year-old runaway.
Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Howell disputed Majeed’s claims that what happened was a mistake and asked the court to send a strong message that this type of behavior is not tolerated.
‘No mistake, no accident’
“Mr. Majeed is familiar with language that most people are not. Technology is not foreign to him. And he was not a stranger to the site that day,” said Howell. “(The age) 13 was represented. His desires were represented. It was no mistake, no accident. He knew what he was doing when he went there. He had a specific desire and a specific intent.”
Defense attorney Court Will argued that he believes his client did not know the age of the person with whom he was chatting, and going to prison is an extremely steep price for Majeed’s actions that day.
Majeed has no prior felony convictions.
Will pointed out that his client grew up in Iraq and had a degree in the information technology field, which allowed him to start working with the United States military in 2006 as an interpreter.
Majeed put himself in great danger for this country, which allowed him to immigrate here with his family, said his attorney. He accepts the verdict and won’t find himself before the court again, he said.
Majeed must register as a sex offender, and will be on community supervision for three years after his release. During that time, he will only be allowed to use the internet for work-related purposes and his electronic devices will be subject to search by probation officials.
He has one month to appeal the guilty verdict and sentence.