Stanwood man charged in child-porn investigation

EVERETT — A Stanwood man is facing multiple felony charges after a cellphone found along a Seattle highway led detectives to hundreds of sexually explicit images of children.

Patrick Sheely, 59, had child pornography on his cellphone and on his home computer, according to documents filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Some of the 500 images and videos recovered so far depict the rape of children as young as 3, and suggest Sheely is “a substantial danger to commit a violent offense or otherwise interfere with the administration of justice,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell said in court papers.

On Tuesday, he charged Sheely with three counts of possessing child pornography in an investigation that is still unfolding.

Sheely allegedly has admitted sexual attraction to young girls. The prosecutor asked that his bail be maintained at $250,000.

The investigation began in mid-September after a man spotted a silver LG smart phone along Highway 99 in Seattle. The man picked up the phone the next day when it was safe to stop in traffic. When he powered up the device, he found a text message from somebody claiming to be the son of the phone’s owner.

The man arranged to turn over the phone, but instead of going to the meeting, he went to police. By then he had viewed the phone’s photo gallery and found multiple images of adults engaged in sex acts with children, according to court documents.

The Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force investigated and an undercover detective arranged to meet with the phone’s owner. Sheely was arrested when he showed up to collect the phone in the parking lot of a convenience store along I-5 in north Marysville.

Detectives by then already had obtained a judge’s permission to search the phone’s contents. They also sought search warrants for Sheely’s home computers after he allegedly provided a taped statement to them describing how sexually explicit images of children had spontaneously appeared on his home computers.

Detectives continue to forensically examine Sheely’s home computers to determine if more serious charges may be warranted, including dealing in child pornography, Cornell said.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com

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