Port Angeles man serving time pleads guilty to child porn

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man who is already serving time in prison for the rape of a 14-year-old child pleaded guilty Tuesday to dealing in child pornography after he was linked to an investigation in North Carolina.

Shawn Dawson, an inmate in the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, pleaded guilty in Clallam County Superior Court on Tuesday to a single count of second-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct as part of a plea deal.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin said that as part of the agreement the state will drop three other charges: two counts of first-degree possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of second-degree possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The agreement recommends Dawson, 48, serve 60 months in prison with 36 months of community custody following the prison sentence, but the judge is not bound by that agreement. He faces a standard sentencing range of 57 to 75 months.

Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. May 2, after a pre-sentencing investigation is completed.

When Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson asked Dawson how he pleaded, he initially said he was innocent.

“Not guilty,” Dawson said. “I didn’t do anything.”

But, after talking briefly with his attorney, Dawson took an Alford plea by pleading guilty.

According to his statement of plea of guilty, Dawson does not admit having committed any crimes, but believes there is a “substantial likelihood of my being convicted should this matter go to trial.”

Court records say the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office began investigating after a special agent with Homeland Securities Investigations told the Sheriff’s Office that Dawson was connected to an Asheville Police Department investigation in North Carolina.

The agent said that a caregiver saw child pornography on a man’s computer and that while searching the man’s computer, investigators found email exchanges between him and Dawson.

Dawson and the man began communicating via email Feb. 11, 2016, when Dawson contacted the man about a novel the man had published to a website that features “tens of thousands of sexually-explicit erotic stories involving alternative sexualities,” records say.

Court records say Dawson once sent the man a photo of what appeared to be a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. That image was identified as an image involved in another case investigated by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The victim in the image has been identified, court records say.

Other images exchanged are parts of photo series that are known by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and investigated by the LVMPD and the FBI, records say.

Investigators reviewed “a significant number of files,” that were discovered during the investigation.

When investigators confronted Dawson about the allegations, Dawson said he had “no idea about this” and asserted his right to an attorney, court records say.

Dawson was sentenced in May to serve 26 months in prison after pleading guilty last year to third-degree rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes, but court records say he denies he committed those crimes.

Dawson’s attorney John Hayden said Dawson is expected to be released Sept. 3.

In that case Dawson was originally charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor and third-degree rape of a child.

In the defendant’s sentencing memorandum in that case, Dawson’s attorney wrote that while Dawson admits to providing marijuana to a 14-year-old boy, “had this matter proceeded to trial, Mr. Dawson would have denied the allegations of sexual contact … and directly challenged the allegations.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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