No more internet ads for Sequim man accused of child sex crimes

Clinton R. Caldwell, 67, of Sequim appears on a television monitor with an inset of Clallam County Superior Court Judge Chris Melly during Caldwell’s first court appearance Tuesday in connection with his arrest in a “Net Nanny” operation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Clinton R. Caldwell, 67, of Sequim appears on a television monitor with an inset of Clallam County Superior Court Judge Chris Melly during Caldwell’s first court appearance Tuesday in connection with his arrest in a “Net Nanny” operation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man who was arrested in March in the Net Nanny child-sex sting has had his internet use restricted after he allegedly placed a tenants-wanted online advertisement seeking struggling mothers to live at his home.

Clinton Roy Caldwell, 67, pleaded not guilty Friday at the Clallam County Superior Court hearing to first- and second-degree attempted rape of a child.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said Wednesday that Caldwell and 10 other men arrested in the operation conducted by regional law enforcement agencies will likely be the only people apprehended in the investigation.

Judge Erik Rohrer ruled Friday that Caldwell, who is out of jail on $100,000 bail, can post internet ads only for personal property.

Caldwell and nine other men were arrested March 23-26 in a sting in which they communicated with undercover officers, some of whom posed as children, before going to a Port Hadlock house rented by the State Patrol, where they expected to meet children. One of them, Thomas E. Gale, 53, of Port Townsend, was found dead of apparent suicide on March 30.

The officers who communicated with Caldwell mostly through text messages and emails posed as the 35-year-old mother of 8- and 12-year-old daughters, according to court records.

Caldwell was driving to the house and was arrested in Jefferson County before he arrived because he possessed firearms “and was not friendly towards law enforcement,” according to a 16-page probable cause statement.

An 11th man arrested Friday in Longmont, Colo. — the same day as Caldwell’s hearing — sent explicit text messages and photos to an undercover officer involved in the operation with the stated intent of visiting the Seattle area in May or June to visit the texter, authorities said.

Gary L. Hansel, 62, of Longmont, was jailed on $200,000 bail and was incarcerated as of Wednesday in the Boulder County jail.

Authorities from the State Patrol and Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties conducted followup investigations on 40-65 people who were in contact with officers but who didn’t show up for the sting.

The investigations have “grown cold and stale,” Benedict said Wednesday.

“It’s safe to say that there is some ongoing investigation but we’ve arrested the last [suspects] that we probably will.

“There are a couple I am told who don’t read the newspaper and are still communicating, but I don’t think those [investigations] are going anywhere.”

The investigation of Caldwell began after a State Patrol detective reached out to Caldwell in response to a Craigslist advertisement that implored, “If you are a struggling mother, woman, women who need help please contact me,” according to the ad.

“I have a family of women now who came from where you come from,” it said.

“We are open minded and non-judgmental.

“If you seriously need help and want a new beginning, contact me today.”

Women had made several complaints against Caldwell that alleged that “he was requiring female tenants to provide sex acts in exchange for housing and utilities,” according to the probable cause statement.

Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, said at the hearing Friday that an ad that “was pretty much identical” had been posted Friday on Craigslist that was sent to her by a detective.

It was taken down Friday, Devlin said.

As a condition of Caldwell’s release, he was to not have contact with anyone under 18 years old.

The ad “is talking about potential children,” Devlin said.

Port Angeles lawyer John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender, representing Caldwell, said someone with “a revengeful spirit” toward Caldwell might have posted the ad.

Rohrer concluded that Caldwell’s internet use should be restricted.

“I don’t see under what scenario, given this case, that Mr. Caldwell should be posting any type ads on the internet,” he said.

Rohrer later said Caldwell should be allowed to post ads to sell personal property.

Caldwell and an undercover officer saying that she made her daughters available for sex acts phoned, emailed and texted each other more than 100 times before he drove to Jefferson County, according to the probable cause statement.

He provided a phone number that linked him to the emails, according to the statement.

Caldwell is one of 10 men who have pleaded not guilty to child sex crimes as part of the Net Nanny sting. He was the only one incarcerated in Callam County. The rest, excluding the Colorado man, were booked into the Jefferson County jail.

• Andrew M. Worley, 34, and David L. Sprague, 34, both of Sequim, are in the Jefferson County jail on $50,000 bail.

• Isaac J. Boyd, 21, of Sequim, was released on $50,000 bail.

• Richard J. Bertolacci, 77, of Bremerton, was released after posting $50,000 bail.

• Timothy J. Rondeau Jr., 31, of Quilcene, was in the Jefferson County jail on $30,000 bail.

• Michael Schluetz, 65, of Hoodsport, was released after posting $50,000 bail.

• Ming Fai Lee, 20, of Auburn, was released after posting $30,000 bail.

• Michael E. Punt, 56, of Bremerton, was released after posting $50,000 bail.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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