Chehalis Man, Child Porn Suspect Gets 15 Years After Plea Deal for Recorded Rape

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

A Chehalis man facing a 20-year sentence for federal charges of producing child pornography was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in separate sex offense convictions in Lewis County.

Brandon K. Phelps, 33, of Chehalis, was sentenced Wednesday to 102 months, more than 8 years, for a 2015 second-degree child molestation case. He was sentenced to 185 months, or 15 ½ years, for a second-degree rape case from the same year. He pleaded guilty last year in both cases.

Phelps has also recently been in federal custody for a child pornography production case in U.S. District Court. 

He has also pleaded guilty in that case and is awaiting sentencing. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead said the assistant U.S. Attorney plans to seek a sentence of 20 years, which will run at the same time as his Lewis County cases. 

Phelps’ attorney, Don Blair, said attorneys had to juggle his client’s current cases and competing court schedules to develop the guilty plea agreement.

“It was quite, I would call it, a dance to get all of these loose strings put together,” he said. 

On Jan. 28, 2015, a local police detective began assisting the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with an Internet Crimes Against Children case after a Homeland Security investigator received a tip that child pornography was being manufactured at a Chehalis address, according to court documents. 

Police obtained a search warrant for Phelps’ home based on evidence that linked Phelps’ email account to the child pornography investigation. The detectives recovered electronic devices and cell phones. 

While investigating that case, detectives met with a woman who said she lived with Phelps. 

The woman reported to investigators that Phelps had sexual intercourse with her while she was sleeping and recorded it. Investigators found four videos on Phelps’ cellphone, in which he recorded himself sexually assaulting the woman while she was unconscious. 

In April 2015, Phelps was charged with four counts of second-degree rape in that case. Two days after local police became involved in the ICAC case, on Jan. 30, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Phelps in Lewis County Superior Court with first-degree child molestation and voyeurism.

According to court documents, Centralia police responded in 2010 to a report of a sex offense against a minor dating back to 2009 in which Phelps allegedly inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl when he was 26 years old, then allegedly watched the girl while she showered. 

It is unclear in court documents why Phelps was not charged in that case until after the ICAC case in 2015.

Last year, Phelps pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree rape and second-degree child molestation in the two 2015 cases. He was sentenced to 15½ years and 8½ years, respectively, on Wednesday. 

For much of the time his local cases were working their way through Lewis County Superior Court, Phelps has been held in federal custody on charges of producing child pornography filed in U.S. District Court. 

Phelps has pleaded guilty but has not yet been sentenced in that case. He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years, served concurrently with his Lewis County cases.