Chehalis Man Who Photographed Child Molestation Gets 20 Years in Prison

By Natalie Johnson /

A Chehalis man already serving a 15-year-sentence on local child molestation and rape charges was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on federal child pornography charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Brandon K. Phelps, 33, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on June 17, 2016, to one count of production of child pornography.

According to the plea agreement between Phelps and prosecutors, attorneys in the case planned to recommend a sentence of 240 months, or 20 years, to run concurrently with a 15-year sentence imposed in a Lewis County case.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle imposed a 228-month sentence, or 19 years, in addition to an 18-month sentence Phelps has already served, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Deterrence is very important … word must be out there for others like you that, if you engage in these crimes (child sex offenses), you will receive very long sentences,” Settle said, according to the news release.

Phelps will also be subject to a lifetime of supervised release after his prison term is over.

According to court documents, Phelps was babysitting three children in October 2014, including the victim in the federal case, who was born in 2004. During that time, Phelps reportedly forced the girl to participate in sexually explicit conduct, then took pictures using a smartphone.

He also described the incidents in email communications with other.

Police began investigating after receiving a cyber-tip regarding Phelps sharing child pornography online. He was arrested in connection to the case in January 2015.

While investigating the child pornography case, police met with a woman who said she was living with Phelps. She reported that Phelps had sexual intercourse with her when she was asleep and recorded it.

Investigators found the videos on Phelps’ smartphone.

In April 2015, he was charged in Lewis County Superior Court with four counts of second-degree rape in that case.

He was already facing a first-degree child molestation and voyeurism charges, filed in January 2015, regarding a 2009 complaint that Phelps inappropriately touched a 10-year-old girl.

He was sentenced in February 2017 to 15 years for the rape case and 8 years for the 2009 child molestation case.

The U.S. District Court case was investigated by the U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation and the Seattle Police Department as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Grady Leupold in coordination with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.