After being arrested July 13, John Richard Cothern, 43, was charged on Friday, July 16, with five counts of possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Cothern is currently being held at the King County Jail on $750,000 bail and is scheduled for an arraignment Monday, July 26 at 8:30 a.m. at the King County Courthouse.
Cothern is the first person to be charged under a new amendment to House Bill 2424 that allows for multiple counts to be filed against a person with "many-even thousands-of illegal depictions of children being sexually abused," a July 21 press release from the Attorney's Generals Office said.
"The legislation allows us to distinguish between those offenders who might have one or two or a dozen images that violate the law, versus someone who appears to be a major player in the sharing and trafficking of child pornography," said Dan Satterberg, prosecuting attorney for King County.
Previously, in a state Supreme Court ruling dealing with a separate child pornography case, the court had ruled that the unit of prosecution was a single count even though the hard drive contained thousands of depictions, Satterberg explained.
"This defendant is alleged to have possessed thousands of pictures and movies of sexual abuse of minors and infants. We are allowed to charge more than one count. We charged five, because in this case the individual already had significant criminal history," Satterberg said.
According to a police report filed July 16, The Seattle Police Department (SPD) arrested Cothern in his apartment, located less than a mile from St. Anne School in Queen Anne. Police worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and discovered through an Internet file-sharing program that Cothern was downloading images that contained child pornography.
During the course of his interview with the police, Cothern admitted to having sex with eight child victims during the course of his life and to viewing images that depicted child pornography on his computer. In 1994, Cothern was convicted of child molestation in the first degree and in 2001, for possession of child pornography, the press release from the attorney general's office said.
In 2005, Washington passed a bill that established a "Community Protection Zone" around public and private schools. The legislation restricts sex offenders from living closer than 880 feet to any school and from loitering in child-safety zones such as parks and community swimming pools.
If convicted, Cothern faces between nine and 10 years in prison, Satterberg said. Had he been prosecuted under the old law, he would have faced four years.
Cothern is one of 161 sexual predators living within a two-mile radius of
Queen Anne, according to King County Sheriff figures. Nearby, 27 sexual predators live within a two-mile radius of Magnolia.
"The main thing is to know where your kids are at all times and to make sure that your children understand the right response if they are ever approached," Satterberg said.
The News will follow up on Monday's arraignment.[[In-content Ad]]