Jury finds Hoodsport man guilty in sexual predator case

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A jury on Feb. 1 found a Hoodsport man guilty of two counts of attempted second-degree rape of a child after a multi-agency sting operation during which suspects were arrested in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

The operation, called “Net Nanny,” was launched in August 2015 by the Washington State Patrol. Between March 22 and 25, 2018, 10 alleged sexual predators who targeted children were apprehended.

Michael Schluetz, 66, of Hoodsport was one of the persons arrested. He was found guilty by a jury on two counts of attempted rape of a child and communications with a minor for immoral purposes, a news release from the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office stated. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two other counts of attempted distribution of a controlled substance to a minor.

Schluetz engaged in email conversations with an undercover detective posing as a 13-year-old who offered to have sex with him and her 13-year-old friend. Schluetz also expressed an interest in sex with the minors and detailed his intent to engage in sexual relations with them.

His sentencing has been set for March 8, where he potentially faces 9 to 12 years of incarceration.

For the four-day Net Nanny 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. Those arrested traveled to meet with undercover detectives who posed as young girls and boys.

“It really was a multi-agency operation,” Sheriff Joe Nole said. “We had our deputies, officers from Port Angeles, Clallam County deputies, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, and it was headed up by the Washington State Patrol.”

Nole said he believed the operation was effective.

“A lot of these investigations determine if the person has committed other crimes, or will in the future,” Nole said. “We would obtain search warrants after their arrest to look for things that had to do with the crime, such as child pornography.”

Nole worked as a polygraph examiner in the investigation.

“In my opinion, the people that do this often aren’t just talking to one person online,” Nole said. “You’d be surprised how prevalent it is.”

In another Net Nanny case, Michael Punt was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty Feb. 1.

Punt also had engaged in an email conversation with a detective who was undercover as a mother who had 12- and 8-year-old daughters.

During his sentencing, Punt presented a letter to Superior Court Judge Keith Harper explaining how he felt the incident had been a misunderstanding and that he had been mentally and emotionally impaired at the time.

“I’m not impressed,” Harper said in response. “What was proposed to be done here was absolutely terrible and unlawful. … The consequences of this are basically self-imposed by the decisions you’ve made.”

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