Crime

77-year-old is embarrassed he tried to ‘hook up’ with a Richland teen. Prison is his new fear

Federal program targets online child predators

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.
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The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was developed federally in 1998 as the number of children and teenagers using the internet increased and child sexual abuse images became available electronically, authorities say.

A 77-year-old man who drove 150 miles to have sex with a teen in Richland said he is embarrassed by his actions and is willing to work on his issues through sex offender treatment.

Robert C. Fischbach told a community corrections officer that he knows he hurt a lot of people when he tried to hook up with the 13-year-old girl after texting with her for two months.

His wife of more than two decades — who he claimed sometimes looked over his shoulder — has filed for divorce.

Fischbach didn’t know the teen was an undercover detective, but said in his presentencing report “nothing” would have happened if she had been real, because he had a medical condition.

However, the community corrections officer noted that Fischbach failed to acknowledge he had a pill, believed to be Viagra, when arrested April 2. That contradicted his earlier statement.

Already transferred to prison

Fischbach recently was sentenced in Benton County Superior Court to nearly five years in state prison.

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Robert C. Fischbach Washington Department of Corrections

He’s already been moved to Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, where he will remain for at least one month while officials classify him and determine the most appropriate facility for his needs.

Fischbach received a maximum life term, which means his eventual release will be up to a state board depending on his behavior and participation in treatment. He also will be on community supervision for the rest of his life.

The Spokane man pleaded guilty in May to attempted second-degree child rape. A second charge for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Defense attorney Michael Vander Sys said the circumstances surrounding his client’s case “clearly warrant a bottom of the range sentence.”

‘Genuinely an isolated incident’

Fischbach had no felony history and no prior incidences of sexual misconduct, the lawyer said.

“This is genuinely an isolated incident that will never be repeated,” said Vander Sys. “Mr. Fischbach is sincerely remorseful for his actions, has taken responsibility for his conduct, and is adamant about obtaining treatment. He recognizes the wrongfulness of his actions and places blame solely on himself.”

The attorney pointed out that he received more than two dozen letters from family and friends about Fischbach’s character.

“He is fortunate to have people sincerely interested in his success and believe he is capable of being a productive member of society,” said Vander Sys. “The number of people who indicate surprise at the conduct in this case is a testament to the out-of-character nature of this offense. This is not who Mr. Fischbach is, or will be ever again.”

Fischbach responded to an online post made in early February by a detective with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The detective was pretending to be an underage girl looking for someone to treat her as an adult.

Wanted a lighter sentence

The two chatted for nearly two months, with Fischbach often talking about making love and giving sensual massages to the girl, court documents show.

He shared links to two adult pornography sites, expressed fear about going to jail and eventually sent a cellphone as a gift so the girl’s parents couldn’t see their chats, documents said.

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When they organized the April 2 meet-up at a Richland park, Fischbach said he had to give a reason for the trip to his wife because she was sometimes watching.

Fischbach made it clear the trip was to collect on a debt for giving the cell to the teen.

He later told Brady J. Hinds, a community corrections officer, he thought the recommended sentence of four years and 10 months is a little high. He said two years would have been more appropriate.

Fischbach reportedly cried when talking about family, and said his wife remained supportive and would continue to help run the business even after their divorce. He sells soil erosion products, and believes he also will be able to operate the business from inside prison walls.

“Prison is a little worrisome for him as he has not even had as much as a speeding ticket, but he seemed positive that he would persevere,” wrote Hinds.

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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