Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Beau Thomas Upton, age 30, of Richland, Washington, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to production of child pornography. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr., sentenced Upton to 21 years in federal prison, to be followed by 40 years of court supervision after he is released. Judge Mendoza also required Upton to register as a sex offender upon completion of his prison sentence. As part of the resolution of the case, Upton has also agreed to plead guilty to two counts of Third Degree Rape of a Child in Benton County Superior Court.
The investigation began when officers and detectives with the Richland and Kennewick Police Departments joined agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) to investigate a ring of adult men who were drugging teenage boys in the Tri-Cities, engaging in illicit sexual activity with them, and recording the sexual abuse. Judge Mendoza has previously sentenced Defendants Zayne Barbre (28 years) and Ryan Alexander (25 years) to lengthy federal terms, each to be followed by a lifetime of supervision.
In March 2017, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Barbre’s residence in Richland, Washington, where they learned that Barbre had been harboring a 14-year-old victim whom he had been drugging, prostituting, and sexually abusing. Officers discovered a makeshift child pornography production studio, with a MacBook computer propped up on a wooden box, positioned so its web camera could record sexual abuse on a bed on the floor in front of the computer. On a desk was a small digital camera taped to another wooden box, pointed into the room.
One minor victim reported that he had been introduced to Barbre by Upton, and that in 2016, Barbre and Upton had begun drugging and sexually abusing him, sometimes alone and sometimes together, and sometimes while recording the abuse in the makeshift child production studio in Barbre’s house.
When officers forensically examined the digital devices recovered from Barbre’s house, they found numerous videos depicting Barbre and Upton having sexual intercourse with males appearing to be younger than themselves, from 2015 through 2016. One such video depicted Barbre adjusting the recording device while Upton looked on, prior to recording a sexual act with a young male. Officers also recovered text messages between Barbre and Upton that corroborated that they had engaged in group sex on more than one occasion with at least one 14-year-old victim and another male.
In a related investigation, officers learned that Ryan Alexander had been grooming boys online, teaching them how to use and sell marijuana, and then sexually assaulting them while obtaining pornographic images of them. Alexander also obtained child pornography images of one minor, and then pretended to be that minor to induce a different minor to take and send child pornography of himself to Alexander. When the Richland Police Department conducted a sophisticated forensic examination of Alexander’s digital devices, they recovered hundreds of images of child pornography, including sexual images of children that depicted violence, sadomasochism, toddlers, and infants.
United States Attorney William D. Hyslop said “Today’s sentencing hearing brings to a close the investigations into three individuals who engaged in truly heinous sexual abuse of minors. I hope that the victims and their families are able to gain a sense of resolution as they move forward with their lives. There is no greater priority than the protection of children and teenagers from sexual harm. The sentences imposed in these three cases are a clear message to anyone in Eastern Washington who has the criminal audacity not only to abuse minors, but to record their hideous conduct: if you do something terrible like this, we will find you, we will prosecute the case, and you should expect that a multi-decade sentence in federal prison awaits you. The United States Attorney’s Office is proud to partner with law enforcement and victim services professionals from around the region to prevent and deter these kinds of crimes. I commend HSI and the Richland and Kennewick Police Departments, the Southeast Regional ICAC Task Force, and the Support, Advocacy, and Resource Center (“SARC”) in the Tri-Cities for their sensitive and professional approach to these three cases, and I thank them for their tireless work in combating child exploitation.”
Chief John Bruce of the Richland Police Department said “The crimes which exploit children are some of the worst we encounter and have lasting impacts on the victims and their families. We will continue to collaborate with our partners in the WA-ICAC Task Force and support our local Southeast Regional ICAC Task Force in their pursuit of those who prey upon the vulnerable.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood (“PSC”), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, and local law enforcement work together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The PSC Initiative has five major components:
· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
· Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
· Community awareness and educational programs.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
This case was investigated by the Richland and Kennewick Police Departments and Homeland Security Investigations, along with the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) Task Force, which is located in Richland, Washington. Victim services were provided by the Support, Advocacy, and Resource Center (“SARC”) in the Tri-Cities. The case was prosecuted by David M. Herzog, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.