TACOMA, WA – Today Anthony Ray Blankenship, 33, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and 36 months of community custody. He pleaded guilty on February 8, 2017 to three counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
“We are committed to protecting children and other vulnerable members of our community,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
In mid-December of 2015, the Washington State Patrol arrested Blankenship as part of a sting operation where undercover officers posed as a 13-year-old girl online. Blankenship responded to an online posting by the officers and exchanged sexually explicit emails with them. He eventually agreed to meet the “13-year-old” at a gas station in Tacoma.
When Blankenship arrived, he was arrested by law enforcement officers. The defendant was carrying a condom when he was arrested. He admitted that he had been asked by the online persona to bring one. Blankenship told detectives that he worked for the City of Tacoma, had a masters in social work, and just wanted to help the underage girl. He could not explain comments he made to the online undercover officer expressing concern about cops being involved.
Local law enforcement agencies engaged in two sting operations in late 2015, posing online as underage girls or parents selling their children for sex. Those operations resulted in ten defendants being arrested. Of those ten, nine have now been convicted by a jury or plead guilty. Deputy Prosecutor John Neeb is the lead prosecutor on these undercover cases. The tenth is currently set for trial on March 28, 2017.