U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Washington
(509) 353-2767
October 1, 2015

Moses Lake, Washington Man Sentenced to Three Years in Federal Prison for Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct

SPOKANE—Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Michael Thomas Van Dyke, age 39, of Moses Lake, Washington was sentenced after having previously plead guilty on July 2, 2015, to Travel With Intent to Engage In Illicit Sexual Conduct. United States District Court Senior Judge Justin L. Quackenbush, sentenced Van Dyke to a three year (36 month) term of imprisonment. Van Dyke’s three year term of imprisonment is to be followed by a 10 year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. In addition, Van Dyke will be required to register as a sex offender.

According to information disclosed during the court proceedings, on September 9, 2013, a woman contacted the Hopewell, Virginia Police Department and reported that her 13 year old daughter had been communicating online with an adult man (later identified Van Dyke). The woman also stated that another family member saw the 13 year old in the company of Van Dyke in Hopewell, Virginia on September 6, 2013. The 13 year old girl was interviewed and told police that she met Van Dyke on the Internet social network site Tumblr in August 2013. The girl reported that Van Dyke knew she was thirteen years old. The girl confirmed that she and Van Dyke had chatted online and had telephone conversations and video chats of a sexual nature. The girl described Van Dyke as disabled and in a wheelchair and confirmed that Van Dyke had traveled to meet her in Virginia and had asked her to go somewhere with him, but she had refused.

The 13 year old girl’s family provided a cell phone and computer that the young girl had used to communicate with Van Dyke. A search of the devices revealed the text of online chats that demonstrated the sexual nature of the communication between Van Dyke and the young girl and that the purpose of Van Dyke’s travel to Virginia was illicit sexual conduct with her.

On March 17, 2014, the FBI executed a search warrant at Van Dyke’s residence in Moses Lake. Computers and electronic media were recovered and Van Dyke was interviewed. Van Dyke admitted to traveling to Virginia to meet with the 13 year old girl in September 2013. Evidence consisting of phone photos and various receipts established that Van Dyke traveled from Moses Lake to Virginia on September 5, 2013. Chat logs between the young girl and Van Dyke further confirmed that the purpose for the travel was illicit sexual conduct with her.

Michael C. Ormsby said: “I commend the outstanding investigative work in this case by the Hopewell, Virginia Police Department and the FBI. This is a very serious case that requires the punishment imposed by the Court. The United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Washington is committed to aggressively prosecuting and seeking appropriate punishment for crimes against children.”

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, 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 Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) 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 investigation was conducted by the Hopewell, Virginia Police Department and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by James A. Goeke, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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