Extortion scheme increases bail for suspected molester

A judge in Island County Superior Court increased a suspected child molester’s bail Friday because the man allegedly engaged in an extortion scheme with his mother over the jail phone, a deputy prosecutor said.

Jeffrey C. McCord, a 31-year-old Clinton resident, scheduled the hearing to request the reduction or elimination of his bail, but it didn’t go the way he had hoped.

McCord’s attorney, Steve McKay, explained to Judge Vickie Churchill that McCord’s mother and grandmother had moved closer to him. His grandmother is very ill and he wants to be able to see her before she dies, the attorney said.

McCord’s bail had been set at $150,000 after his arrest in April. McKay suggested that McCord be released on his personal recognizance or his bail reduced, possibly to $50,000.

Deputy Prosecutor Michael Safstrom, however, argued that the judge should either revoke or substantially increase McCord’s bail because he “made a concerted effort to subvert justice.”

Safstrom said McCord spoke to his mother on a jail phone, which are recorded, and asked her to contact a Bellingham man to tell him to pay McCord $200 a month to his jail account; McCord asked his mother to tell the man he could also be in jail.

In their conversation, McCord alludes to “some kind of abuse” that the man committed against the man’s children, saying they will need to be interviewed by police and McCord guarantees the interview will be “productive,” according to Safstrom.

Law enforcement in Bellingham contacted the man and interviewed his children, but didn’t find evidence of any crime, the deputy prosecutor said.

In fact, it turned out that the man was the anonymous source who alerted authorities that McCord had child pornography. According to Safstrom, the man said McCord showed him a video while they were smoking methamphetamine last fall; the video showed two men raping a 10-year-old girl.

The Homeland Security investigation into McCord’s alleged distribution of pornography led investigators to evidence that McCord had molested a child, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Prosecutors charged him with one count of child molestation in the first degree.

In addition, Safstrom said he found evidence that McCord had been convicted as a child of a sex offense in Nevada.

In the end, Churchill increased McCord’s bail to $250,000.

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