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July 21, 2010
New child porn law used to prosecute molester

Seattle man with prior convictions could be kept behind bars for years

OLYMPIA — A new law requested by the state attorney general is already being used by at least one prosecutor to go after some of the most dangerous sexual predators.

On Friday, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg charged a previously-convicted child molester, John Richard Cothern, with five counts of possessing child pornography. Until the law was changed this year, a series of court decisions made it difficult to file multiple charges against those apprehended with many — even thousands — of illegal depictions of children being sexually abused.

Couthern was convicted for child molestation in 1994 and for possession of child pornography in 2001. His latest arrest came after the Seattle Police, working with the FBI, apprehended him sharing child pornography online.

 “This offender perfectly illustrates why our new law is needed and what it is designed to do,” Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “He told an investigator that, in addition to trading in gruesome illegal images, he sexually abused eight victims and avoided being caught most of the time. But today, the new law employed by King County’s Prosecutor could keep a dangerous man off the streets – and away from additional victims – for years.”

For three consecutive legislative sessions, Attorney General McKenna proposed updating state laws regarding the prosecution of child pornography. The King County Prosecutor’s Office played a key role in that effort.

"Under the previous law, thousands of photos and movies depicting graphic child sexual abuse could only be prosecuted as a single offense," said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. "Thanks to the action of the Legislature, the sentence for this chronic offender is double what it would have been before. This is an important development that will help us protect the children of our community." 

During legislative sessions, the two elected officials, along with Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe, regularly pointed out that children are terribly abused to produce child pornography. They also pointed to evidence that those who view illegal depictions of minors often seek and find real-life victims.

This year legislators let the bill out of committee. Once it passed that threshold, it was approved unanimously.

“People sometimes overlook how much bipartisan work is actually done in Olympia,” McKenna added. “I’m grateful to the coalition of legislators from both political parties who sponsored and supported this legislation.”

HB 2424 was sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe and others. It went into effect on June 10.


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725
Dan Donohoe, Press Secretary, King County Prosecutor’s Office, (206) 296-9029

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