Second jury conviction from 2019 “Net Nanny” operation targeting individuals seeking to rape children
YAKIMA — A Yakima County jury convicted Hayden A. Erlandson of felony attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, following a criminal prosecution by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Sentencing will occur on Nov. 22. Erlandson, 25, faces a standard sentencing range for felony attempted second degree rape of a child of 6 years, 3 months to 8 years, 6 months in prison, with a maximum penalty of life in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000. Communicating with a minor for immoral purposes has a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
This was the second trial by the Attorney General’s Office stemming from charges related to a November 2019 “Net Nanny” law enforcement operation in Yakima in which undercover officers pose as children or parents of children on online sexual encounter websites. The Attorney General’s Office accepted six case referrals from Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Brusic following that operation and recently accepted three additional cases. Four of those cases resulted in guilty pleas before trial, and on Sept. 18 a Yakima County jury convicted another defendant of felony attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
“My prosecutors work hard to protect children from predators,” Ferguson said. “Operations like these are critical to the safety of Washington’s youth.”
The prosecution of Erlandson is one of nine cases the Attorney General’s Office is handling from a November 2019 “Net Nanny” operation in Yakima. State, local and federal law enforcement officers conducted the operation, which the Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force coordinated and led. Detectives posed online as minors interested in sex, or, alternatively, as individuals offering minors for sex. They arrested 16 men.
The Attorney General’s Office does not have authority to initiate criminal investigations, unless it receives and accepts a referral from a county prosecutor or the governor.
On Nov. 15, 2019, as detailed in Erlandson’s affidavit of probable cause, Erlandson replied to an online profile created by an undercover task force detective on an online dating and social media website. The detective posed as a 13-year-old girl and described her as “young, short, and sassy. Very independent.”
Erlandson messaged early the next morning to ask the girl if she wanted to meet. The detective replied and they communicated about meeting up later that evening, with a specific discussion about the age of the girl. They exchanged more messages about meeting up to have sex.
The detective sent him an address to a house in Yakima and Erlandson arrived there on the evening of Nov. 16, 2019. When Erlandson arrived and entered the house, law enforcement officers arrested him. He had two condoms in the pocket of his jeans.
Previous guilty pleas and verdict
In February, Richie Robertson, a 24-year-old Yakima man, pleaded guilty to one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He was released with 185 days served and will register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Kendrick Yallup-Littlebull, 24, from Yakima pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit child molestation in the first degree. A judge sentenced him to more than three years in prison.
On Nov. 7, a Yakima County judge will sentence Veniamin N. Gaidaichuk, 31, from Everett after a jury returned a guilty verdict against him on Sept. 18.
Three trials remain scheduled
The Attorney General’s Office also recently accepted three additional cases in the 2019 Net Nanny operation from the Yakima County Prosecutor’s Office:
- Lucas Martinez, 38, from White Swan, is charged with attempted first and second degree rape of a child, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
- Leonardo M. Sanchez-Breton, 22, from Union Gap, is charged with attempted second degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
- Frederick W. Thomson, 71, from Union Gap, is charged with attempted first and second degree rape of a child.
Trials for the three men are expected at a later date.
The charges against Martinez, Sanchez-Breton and Thomson are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Assistant Attorneys General Theo Smith and Nick Kiewik are handling the cases for the Attorney General’s Office.
The Rules of Professional Conduct govern what a prosecutor in a criminal case may say publicly before trial. As the prosecutor in this criminal matter, the Attorney General’s Office and its representatives are prohibited from making public statements beyond the narrow scope allowed by the Rules of Professional Conduct. The office will make every effort to be transparent with the public, while upholding its responsibilities as a criminal prosecutor.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.firstname.lastname@example.org
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