By Diana Hefley Herald writer
EVERETT — A Lynnwood man faces up to 16 years in prison after admitting that he sexually assaulted a boy he met through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound.
James Waddell, 54, pleaded guilty Jan. 3 to first-degree child molestation and four other charges related to possessing and dealing child pornography. Waddell, who had been out on bail since he was charged in March, was taken into custody Jan. 3. He is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of the month.
He faces 12 to 16.5 years in prison. Once he’s done his time, he also will have to convince the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board that he’s ready for freedom. Waddell will have to register as a sex offender.
Federal authorities agreed not to pursue federal charges against Waddell in light of the plea agreement, lawyers told a judge Jan. 3.
Waddell came to the attention of Florida authorities in November 2010 during an undercover investigation that targeted people sharing online child pornography, according to charging documents. Investigators with the Washington State Patrol searched Waddell’s Lynnwood apartment in January 2011 and seized a computer, camera and photographs.
He was arrested in March at his apartment.
Waddell was a volunteer with the Big Brothers mentoring program from 2002 to 2005. He was terminated for having unauthorized overnight stays with a boy, court papers say. He’d been matched with the boy when the child was 6. Waddell continued to see the boy after the mentorship was terminated, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell wrote in charging papers.
The victim, now 16, initially denied that he’d been sexually assaulted. He later told a FBI interview specialist that Waddell had assaulted him, but he had been struggling with how to deal with the abuse.
Waddell was ordered on Jan. 3 to never contact the victim again.
Officials with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound told The Herald in March that they had been cooperating with investigators. They said volunteers and staff undergo screening and criminal background checks. The kids and their parents are given personal safety awareness education.
Waddell allegedly sought a foster care license from the state after he was kicked out of the Big Brothers program. He didn’t tell state officials that he’d been terminated. His application was denied. An employee with the state Department of Social and Health Services concluded that Waddell was a liar, Cornell wrote. Waddell appealed the state’s decision, but the appeal was rejected in 2008.