(Tribune News Service) — A former Seattle man who for a time worked as an FBI informant, helping to foil a terror plot at the Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station, was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of release under the state's three-strikes law for raping a 12-year-old girl during Seattle's annual Torchlight Parade in 2006.

Robert Childs Jr., 45, wasn't charged with second-degree rape of a child until February 2019 because the original Seattle police detective who investigated the girl's rape closed the case about six weeks after the assault, without ever requesting that forensic evidence obtained during a sexual-assault examination be tested for male DNA, court records show.

Both of Childs' prior strike offenses are for third-degree rape convictions for sexual assaults committed in 1994 and 2000. His DNA would have already been entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a DNA database operated by the FBI, by the time of the 2006 rape.

But at that time, police officers and detectives had sole discretion to decide whether to send what are commonly known as rape kits to the State Patrol Crime Lab for DNA analysis and entry into CODIS for possible "hits" to offender DNA. Legislation that went into effect in July 2015 eliminated police discretion and required that all rape kits — including an estimated 6,000 kits that had sat untouched for years in police evidence warehouses across the state — be submitted for DNA testing.

Before the new law went into effect, Seattle police had already changed its policy and required testing of all rape kits. As of late 2016, there were 1,063 untested rape kits in evidence, the oldest dating to 1996, The Seattle Times reported at the time.

The 12-year-old girl's rape kit was one of them. It was sent for testing in 2018 and recovered male DNA was matched to Childs' DNA profile, the charges against him say. (In addition to the earlier rapes, Childs has convictions for third-degree child molestation and failure to register as a sex offender, but those crimes are not strike offenses.)

The girl had run away from her father's house in Everett and came to Seattle to look for her mother on July 29, 2006, the night of the Torchlight Parade, court records show. Near Yesler Way and Sixth Avenue, she asked a stranger if she could borrow his cellphone and the man pulled her into an alley, where he raped her, according to charging papers.

Following the sexual assault, the girl — who was crying and clearly distraught — got on a Metro bus and another rider accompanied her to the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct on Capitol Hill, where she reported the rape, say court records. The girl was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she underwent a sexual-assault examination and described the assault to medical staff.

Though a police detective interviewed the girl and her father, he cleared the case as "inactive pending further investigative leads" on Sept. 11, 2006, the records show.

At that time, Childs was working at a Northgate gas station and was under supervision by the state Department of Corrections.

Several years later, in 2011, Childs assisted Seattle police and the FBI in stopping a terror plot directed at the Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station, where new Army enlistees report for duty, according to court records and news reports.

Two men — Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis, and Walli Mujahidh, whose real name was Frederick Domingue Jr. — were ultimately sentenced to 18 and 17 years in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to murder officers and agents of the United States and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, court records say.

The FBI paid Childs $90,000 to lead the sting operation in which he recorded hundreds of hours of conversations and provided Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh with three assault rifles as part of their plan to attack the military recruiting station, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting reported in late 2014.

According to the Florida nonprofit news organization, Childs moved to Key West, Florida, after his role as an FBI informant was made public while he was posing as a member of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, a Seattle activist group whose members dress like clowns. He was arrested in Key West in July 2014 for using a stolen credit card and failing to register as a sex offender, but it is unknown whether he was convicted of those crimes.

After Childs was charged in King County Superior Court in February 2019 for second-degree rape of a child in connection with the 2006 Seattle rape, he was arrested by sheriff's deputies in Okeechobee County, Florida, and was extradited to Washington, court records show.

A King County jury found him guilty in July.

(c)2022 The Seattle Times

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