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Man admits exploiting children over Internet

A 34-year-old Oak Harbor man accused of sexually exploiting children over the Internet has agreed to a plea bargain that will likely mean years in prison.

Norman Harms, Jr., a Navy man, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court last month to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possessing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, otherwise known as child pornography.

As part of the plea bargain, Harms has agreed to facts supporting an exceptional sentence. The defense and prosecution agreed to recommend an exceptional sentence not to exceed 12 years in prison.

In exchange for the plea, Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks agreed to dismiss three additional counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and four counts of possession of child pornography. He also promised to secure an agreement with the U.S. Attorney to forego prosecution of Harms in regard to the allegations in the case.

According to the police report, Harms is accused of communicating with two 12-year-old girls and a 17-year-old girl, all in different states, in Internet chat rooms and telephone instant messenger services. He posed as a younger man and convinced them to send him, via the Internet, video of themselves engaging in disturbing sex acts.

Oak Harbor detectives Carl Seim and Cedric Niiro handled the case. According to Seim’s report, Harms first contacted the girls through Internet chat rooms.

The investigation began when the Sheriff’s Office in Butler County, Ohio, learned that two 12-year-old girls had been in contact over the Internet with a man who instructed them to engage in sex acts and transmit the images to him. The Ohio detectives traced the suspect to Oak Harbor.

On March 21, police arrested Harms at his SE Barrington Way apartment and seized his computer. Detective Niiro, a trained forensic computer analyst, was able to identify three children in five videos.

Harms is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 24.

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