70-year-old defendant, who answered police-planted Craigslist ad to meet two young girls, will serve up to 10 years in prison for his efforts.
KENNEWICK (AP) — A Tri-City judge did not mince words when he sentencing a Kennewick man caught in a sting trying to have sex with two underage girls.
“When you walked into that apartment with that smile on your face, it was downright creepy,” Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner told Thomas Swarers, 70, was order convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree child rape and received a mandatory minimum 7 ½ — to 10-year sentence for the crime.
Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Diane Ruff asked for the maximum sentence for the man who showed up with a bag of sex toys to meet what he believed would be two girls, ages 6 and 11.
“He is a predator in a Mr. Rogers sweater,” Ruff said. “His actions were despicable and deplorable.”
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Swarers is one of 26 men caught in the five-day “Net Nanny Operation” and the first to face a jury.
He responded to a Craigslist personals ad and arranged to meet the girls.,
Swarers continued to proclaim his innocence and told Spanner that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I’ve never done anything wrong in my life,” he said. “I got caught up in this thing, and I’ve paid for it dearly.”
His defense attorney, Karla Kane Hudson, asked for a five-year minimum term, noting there were no actual victims. She also noted the state would need to pay for his care as he ages.
“No child was hurt. No child was going to be hurt,” she said. “There may have been an argument that there could have been, there may have been, but, unfortunately, I think our laws (should) punish … what actually happened.”
The judge said there were plenty of reasons to sentence him to the high end of the range, including the age of his potential victims and the damage sex crimes cause in a community and to victims.
He gave Swarers less than the maximum because he didn’t have any previous convictions. Spanner said he did not believe Swarers wasn’t intending to meet children.
“You can tell me all day long that you had no intention of doing anything with those kids, but the stuff you brought in there and that smile on your face,” he said.