Two Thurston County men were among 12 individuals arrested in Lewis County over the weekend on suspicion of involvement in child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The multi-agency operation, dubbed “Net Nanny,” targeted people who used the internet for child sexual abuse and exploitation, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) said in a news release.
The primary crimes investigated were first- and second-degree rape, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and sexual exploitation of a minor.
The twelve individuals arrested were identified as:
The multi-day operation was led by the WSP with help from law enforcement agencies in Lewis County, Chehalis, Longview, Othello, Tacoma, and Spokane, as well as the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the State Department of Corrections.
Middle school teacher arrested
One of the suspects, Hinchcliffe, is a teacher at Salish Middle School, KOMO News reported.
According to a report by KIRO News, local authorities reported placing an online ad as a 19-year-old seeking sex, then revealing to respondents that they were actually 13 years old.
Hinchcliffe, the report says, was caught after he answered the ad, arranged a transaction for the sex act and showed up at the agreed time and location where authorities apprehended him.
The report quoted court documents where Hinchcliffe said he was “just trying to save her, but did not call the police to tell them.”Condoms were found in Hinchcliffe’s vehicle, according to KIRO’s report that cited court records.
School district’s reaction
On North Thurston School District’s website, Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens released a statement saying Hinchliffe has been placed on administrative leave and “will not be at school pending the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any subsequent district investigation.”
“I know this is distressing news for our school community; we are committed to the safety and well-being of all our students,” Clemens furthered. “While I cannot comment more specifically on personnel matters or legal proceedings, we are here to help.”
“Please reach out to your school principal if we can be of assistance to you or your students,” concluded Clemens.
State Patrol Chief’s statement
“The online world’s ability to connect us all has proven to be invaluable over these past few years, yet, it also provides an avenue for criminals to reach into our homes, and more worrisome, our children, in ways we previously never imagined,” WSP Chief John Batiste said.
“This horrific reality only enhances the need for these kinds of proactive investigations by law enforcement to combat these terrible crimes,” he added.
The State Patrol asks that people with information about the suspects or their victims contact the WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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