Man pleads guilty to federal child molestation charge

Sentencing in May likely 8 to 12 years in prison

TACOMA — A Port Townsend man has pleaded guilty to molesting a young boy in Canada and faces a federal prison sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

John Timothy Whicher, 62, could be sentenced to between eight and 12 years in prison based on an agreed recommendation from both parties, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle is scheduled to sentence Whicher on May 18 in Tacoma. The maximum penalty is 30 years in prison, according to the release.

Whicher molested the 6-year-old boy at a family cabin in Ontario in August 2017 after he purchased the trip as a surprise without informing the child’s custodial parent, prosecutors said.

He was charged in August with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.

The investigation began more than two years ago after the boy’s mother reported to Port Townsend police that Whicher raped her son.

Whicher bought plane tickets for himself and the boy and flew from Seattle to International Falls, Minn., and then crossed the border at Fort Francis into Canada, charging papers said.

The boy’s mother thought it was strange but allowed it because she had a good relationship with Whicher, although she was concerned he would be drinking while he was on the trip, according to court documents.

The morning after the two returned, the boy told his mother and another person Whicher sexually abused him.

Confronted

When Whicher was confronted on the allegations, he allegedly responded he was just trying to teach the boy about the “birds and the bees” and that “boys don’t have sex with boys.”

Whicher will be required to register as a sex offender following his release from prison, according to the plea agreement.

He also will be responsible for an undetermined amount of restitution to the victim and for damages he suffered, according to the release.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hampton.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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