County ‘Net Nanny’ operation leads to 10 arrests

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Ten sexual predators who targeted children, including a number in Jefferson County, were taken off the streets in a multiday operation run by law enforcement, county prosecutors and victim advocate specialists. Additionally, seven children were identified as potential victims of sex abuse crimes.

The operation, called “Net Nanny,” was launched in August 2015 by the Washington State Patrol.

Since the original operation, there have been 10 additional operations in the state. The WSP Missing and Exploited Children Task Force spearheads the multiagency coordination of these operations, which includes partners in federal, state and local law enforcement.

The “Net Nanny” series, conducted throughout the state of Washington, has netted a total of 170 arrests and rescued 24 child victims identified during the operations.

“I am proud of the teamwork of our partner agencies for this operation,” Jefferson County Sheriff David Stanko said. “Our men and women in law enforcement showed their courage and tenacity to protect the most vulnerable of our society to take these predators out of our communities.”

Chief Criminal Deputy Art Frank clarified that this is the first time the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has participated in “Net Nanny.”

For the four-day operation, law enforcement officers, acting in an undercover capacity, communicated on the internet through various websites with individuals interested in having sex with children. The operation generated hundreds of responses. The would-be perpetrators who were arrested in the operation traveled to meet with undercover detectives posing as young girls and boys with the intent to engage in sexual activity with them.

All cases are to be presented to the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Washington State Patrol. Child Protective Services and other victims’ advocates are coordinated through the prosecutor’s office to support the victims as they are identified, according to Frank.

“These are troubling cases and remind us just how vulnerable our children are to predators,” Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haas said. “I am very proud of the members of the law enforcement community, and the Jefferson County and Clallam County deputy prosecutors, that participated in this investigation.”

The primary crimes included the attempted rape of a child in the first and second degree, commercial sexual abuse of a minor, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, and unlawful controlled substance transaction and distribution involving persons under the age of 18.

The 10 individuals arrested during the operation included Thomas E. Gale, 53, of Port Townsend, and Timothy J. Rondeau, 48, of Quilcene.

The success of this operation was a collaborative effort involving more than 60 dedicated law enforcement and staff members from agencies that included the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Port Townsend Police Department.

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