Investigation leads to child-porn charges

The Olympian
The Olympian The Olympian

A Lakewood man under investigation for allegedly providing child pornography to residents of the state’s Special Commitment Center has been charged with possessing sexually explicit images of children.

Federal prosecutors filed one count of possession of child pornography against Michael A. Tharp last week, court records show. Tharp, 50, has yet to enter a plea. He’s being held at the federal detention center in SeaTac.

Tharp’s arrest is part of a four-year investigation into the alleged possession, receipt and distribution of child porn at the McNeil Island facility, records state.

Some residents of the center, which houses dangerous sex offenders who’ve completed their prison terms, told investigators they’d sent money to Tharp to get them child pornography, U.S. postal inspector W.E.S. Beaty wrote in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Tharp told investigators the money paid for legal-research services he provided residents, and he agreed to allow agents to search his laptop and desktop computers, records show.

A computer analyst allegedly found 38 images of child pornography from the desktop computer. Tharp later admitted to viewing sexually explicit images, records show.

“He denied having any involvement with distribution of child pornography,” Beaty wrote in the complaint.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644