TACOMA, Wash. – A 39-year-old New Port Ritchey, Florida, man is in federal custody tonight charged with production of child pornography and enticement of a minor. Samuel Aaron Leonard was arrested July 2, in Vancouver, Washington, just outside the home of the 14‑year-old girl he had spent months enticing online for sexual abuse. Leonard allegedly communicated with the girl on a number of social media platforms and represented to the girl that he was 20 years old.
According to the criminal complaint, Leonard contacted the girl via a social media platform around April 1. Over the next few months, Leonard communicated with the girl on various social media sites and sent her a cell phone so that they could communicate by text and telephone. Unbeknownst to the girl, Leonard installed tracking and surveillance software in the phone so that he could monitor her location and read her texts and emails. Leonard turned the conversations with the girl to a sexual nature and convinced her to send various sexually explicit photos. The girl’s guardians became aware of the communication and contacted Kalama Police in late June. Law enforcement immediately seized both phones that the teen had been using to communicate and had an undercover officer take over the communication. Analyzing the communications and the cell phone information, the investigation revealed that Leonard had traveled from Florida to the Vancouver area via bus and was within a short bike ride of the girl’s home. When the officer, posing as the girl, revealed that the girl’s guardian had taken the phone Leonard had sent to her, Leonard said he would get her a new one. Police surveilled Leonard as he took a newly purchased phone, hid it in a package, and tossed the package over the fence to the girl’s backyard. Leonard was arrested shortly afterwards.
A search of Leonard’s hotel room revealed that he had a firearm and ammunition, four folding survival knives, a survival axe, and a number of items used to restrain someone, such as ten sets of flex cuffs and two sets of metal handcuffs, as well as duct tape and electrical tape. He also had various sex toys and lubricants.
Production of child pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison and up to 30 years in prison. Enticement of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.