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Kirkland man sentenced to 15 years for child porn

SEATTLE (AP) — A Kirkland man with a prior conviction for a child sex offense has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for preying on teenage boys through computer games.

Andrew Michael Hartung, 35, was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2002 and on Monday, he was sentenced to a new pornography charge after officials discovered that he had cultivated relationships with at least three teenage boys through online video games.

While playing games like “League of Legends” and “Minecraft,” Hartung convinced the teens that he was their age. A search of Hartung’s computer messages revealed that he was trading gifts, money and game items for sexually explicit images of his victims, court records said.

“He spent years cultivating relationships with malleable young teens, grooming them and plying them with misinformation about his age, identity, and most importantly his intentions,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes. “This case serves as a reminder to parents to be engaged in their children’s online lives.”

Officials learned about Hartung after the father of a 13-year-old boy in Colorado contacted the sheriff’s office to report that his son was playing computer games with someone online and that person asked the teen for sexually explicit photos, according to court records.

That boy told detectives that he and his 12-year-old friend had met Hartung online several years before. They were also communicating with him through text messages, Skype and FaceTime. The younger boy admitted that he had sent the defendant eight sexually explicit photos in exchange for money and gifts, records said.

When officials located Hartung in April 2014, he was planning a trip to Colorado to contact victims. Hartung had previously traveled to Arizona to meet with another victim to give him a laptop computer, officials said.

Hartung was indicted in October three counts: production, receipt and possessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty in January to the receipt and possession charges. Once he’s released from prison, he’ll be on lifetime supervision.

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Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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