South Sound News

'Net Nanny' child sex sting nets 12 in Pierce County

TACOMA, Wash. — They came walking into court one after another, a parade of men caught in a Washington State Patrol sex sting operation known as “Net Nanny”.

The Washington State Patrol has been operating the sting periodically for nearly two years, generating hundreds of online responses from men and women seeking sex with underage boys and girls online.

This time, 12 men, including one who works with the state Department of Corrections, were arrested and face charges of attempted child rape.

“Which makes the tally total since we started this in August 2015, 86 suspects we’ve arrested in this type of series of operations,” said Washington State Patrol Lt. Mike Eggleston.

A source close to the investigation tells KIRO 7 one of the men arrested, 50 year-old Thomas Hili, of Lakewood, is employed by the state Departments of Corrections as a corrections specialist, working statewide to train special emergency response teams, or SERT.

Hili has been placed on home assignment pending an investigation, according to a DOC spokesman. He's scheduled to appear in court at a later date.

Each defendant has been charged with attempted child rape, according to prosecutors, because in each case the man showed up at a location after agreeing to have sex with a 13-year-old, not realizing it was actually an undercover state patrol detective posing as a teenager online.

“Number one, we hold these offenders accountable. Number two we send a strong message. If you’re out there soliciting sex from kids online, you could land in prison,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said after the arraignments.

Ten of the 12 have pleaded not guilty to the charges and were ordered held on $500,000 bail.