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Sept. 26, 2020

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Ex-foster father gets 5 years in child porn case

He filmed minor while he was masturbating and without his knowledge

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A former foster father was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in prison for filming a minor without the minor’s knowledge while the minor was masturbating in a bedroom.

On. Dec. 11, Robert F. McFee, 69, of Vancouver entered a Newton plea — acknowledging a jury could find him guilty of a crime but not admitting to guilt — to charges of voyeurism, first-degree dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Robinson asked Superior Court Judge David Gregerson on Thursday to impose the maximum sentence allowable by law, which is more than six years.

“This is a situation where the defendant went out of his way and volunteered to be the foster parent of this child,” Robinson said. “We feel this is a predatory act and a severe abuse of trust both of the foster care system and of the child’s trust.”

The victim’s foster mother, who is adopting the boy, said the boy is still dealing with psychological effects of the betrayal.

“(He) is a wonderful, wonderful boy, and we love him dearly, but the detriment this has done and will continue to do for the rest of his life is very severe,” the foster mother said. “He cared very much for this gentleman and for him to not care for him back in the way he should is unconscionable.”

McFee’s attorney, Steven Thayer, argued that McFee had good intentions when he filmed the boy with a camera left in the boy’s room. He asked the court to give McFee the minimum sentence allowable under the law, which is 57 months, or just less than five years.

“The boy had some real behavioral problems … so it was decided by Bob that the best thing to do would be to monitor what he was doing so he could confront him about it,” Thayer said.

McFee, who had no previous criminal record, admitted that he had depictions of other minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct on an electronic device. However, he denied filming the foster child for sexual gratification.

While Vancouver police were investigating and before an arrest was made in the case, McFee sought and received counseling concerning his possession of sexual content depicting minors, Thayer said.

“Both the progress he made in counseling and the clinical research indicates that he is not going to re-offend, so we don’t need to lock him up for (75 months) to protect the community,” the defense lawyer said.

McFee was free on a $75,000 bond until his sentencing hearing Thursday.

In exchange for McFee’s plea, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office dismissed more than a dozen other counts, including dealing in and possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Vancouver police began investigating McFee in June 2013 when they detected a computer user in the area was offering to share videos of minors engaged in sexual activity through a peer network on the Internet. A detective downloaded 11 of the proffered videos and found they contained child pornography, according to court papers.

Police served a search warrant at McFee’s home in the Green Meadows neighborhood in September 2013. During the course of the investigation, police allegedly found the video of the boy and hundreds of other images of child pornography. Court papers indicate that the boy was the only minor in the depictions whom McFee knew. The papers also state that McFee was a foster parent at the time of the filming.

Gregerson sentenced McFee to 63 months in prison, three years of probation, registration as a sex offender for a period of 15 years, no contact with the victim for 10 years, no contact with minors, recommended sex offender treatment and no pornography.

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