BELLINGHAM, Wash. — During November, a Bellingham man, Clayton Harker, age 27, began communicating online with undercover Homeland Security agents posing as a man and his niece. As a result of those conversations, Harker reportedly arrived at a Bellingham hotel Tuesday, December 20th, allegedly with materials to molest an 8-year-old child he believed was inside and video the assault. Harker was arrested outside the hotel.
According to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington issued today, December 21st, Harker has been charged with 2 federal felonies related to his alleged attempts to sexually assault a child.
According to the criminal complaint, Harker came to the attention of law enforcement as they were investigating a different snapchat user who was pressuring young people for explicit images, claiming he wanted to pay them as “models.” Based on the communication between that subject and the person later identified as Harker, law enforcement began investigating his online activity. In November 2022, Harker began communicating with an undercover agent who claimed to have an 8-year-old niece Harker could molest. Harker not only communicated with that undercover agent, he also communicated with another agent who posed as the 8-year-old girl. Harker arrived at the hotel yesterday afternoon allegedly with materials to molest the child and video the assault. Harker was arrested before he even entered the hotel.
Law enforcement continues to investigate Harker’s online activities including allegedly pressuring young girls for sexually explicit photos. Just this week DOJ, the FBI and HSI issued an alert about strangers extorting children for sexual images.
Attempted enticement of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison. Attempted production of child pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison. U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of Washington (December 21, 2022)
According to today’s press release, the case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force based at the Seattle Police Department. The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office also assisted.
Whatcom County Jail records indicate Harker was booked about 11:45pm on Tuesday and was transferred to federal custody about 8:10am on Wednesday.
Harker does not appear to have prior appearances in Whatcom County Superior Court but did appear as a defendant in Whatcom County District Court on an unknown charge or charges in 2017.