A 34-year-old former resident of Buckley, who reportedly no longer resides locally, faces at least a decade in prison after being convicted last week of trying to entice a minor for sex.
Taylor J. Matson was arrested in February 2019 as part of an undercover investigation by the Seattle Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force and the FBI, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Western Washington district, which prosecuted Matson.
The case involved a detective posing as the mother of three children, seeking someone to engage in sex with one who was 12 years old. (In Washington, it is considered statutory rape for someone 18 or older to have sex with someone younger than 16, even if either party claims the sex is consensual.)
According to court documents, Matson’s defense team argued that law enforcement improperly used entrapment to make their case against Matson.
A three-day jury trial that started Oct. 6 ended only two days later with the guilty verdict. The jury spent roughly three hours deliberating, according to the DOJ.
Matson intends to appeal his conviction, according to his attorney John Henry Browne.
Attorneys on both sides of the case confirmed that Matson is not held in custody, no longer lives in Buckley and has moved east of the Cascades. He is set to be sentenced on January 25, 2022.
His conviction, a single count of Attempted Enticement of a Minor, carries a minimum 10 year mandatory prison sentence under 18 U.S. Code § 2422.
Matson declined to speak with the Courier-Herald about the case, according to his attorney Browne.
In December 2018, an undercover SPD detective, posing as a woman with three children, posted an online ad looking for “like minded” individuals who were “into things not everyone agrees with,” according to court records in the case.
The initial ad was vague on details, but after Matson emailed a response to the ad, the two began trading text and email messages in which the undercover detective claimed to be looking for a new participant in a “taboo lifestyle” with her three children.
Matson offered to meet for a coffee date and said “I’m definitely interested in getting to know you, and if we hit it off you can introduce me to the family sometime too? You sound like sweet people and I’d love to see where this leads.”
The conversation lasted another day before lapsing until Jan. 4, 2019, when Matson reinitiated contact.
Matson told the detective he was curious and thought she “wanted to meet up and talk about it a bit and introduce me to your girls at some point if we hit it off. I don’t want to dive into anything head first with total strangers as I’m sure you do not either.”
The detective encouraged Matson to meet up and offered to do so at a bar in Feburary.
At that meeting, prosecutors say Matson told the detective he had always been interested in smaller, petite women and would be interested in the twelve-year-old daughter if she was a willing participant, according to court documents.
They arranged to meet the next day at a South Seattle hotel.
“Consistently confirming the meeting was to arrange for sexual contact with a child, the detective raised concerns about the defendant hurting the child,” prosecutors wrote. “In response, the defendant insisted he had been with small-framed women in the past and that he was glad the detective would be there to help with coaxing the child.”
Matson was arrested as he entered the hotel room, according to court documents. Law enforcement seized a cell phone and two condoms from his pockets.
Matson told detectives during an initial interview that he was curious, bored and “playing detective.” He said he didn’t think the conversations at the bar were real and wanted to see the situation play out to see what would happen before contacting law enforcement, according to court documents.
ENTRAPMENT OR “A GUILTY MIND”
Even prior to trial, Matson asked to have the case against him thrown out due to police entrapment.
“Dismissal (of the case) is required because the Government ensnared Mr. Matson—a hardworking, blue collar, honestly discharged veteran who has been in a loving relationship with the same woman for five years—in a reverse sting with no suspicion, whatsoever, and, essentially, manufactured the charge against him from start to finish through deception, fraud, and persuasion,” defense attorneys wrote in that request.
A pillar of Matson’s legal defense was the fact that he never actually communicated with a minor, real or fictitious. That changes the government’s burden of proof, defense attorneys argued.
While a defendant “can be convicted under § 2422(b) for communicating with an adult intermediary,” the defendant’s communications must aim to “persuade, induce, entice, or coerce the minor by way of the intermediary,” the defense wrote in their trial brief.
Matson, they argued, never attempted to contact the fictitious minor himself, and was instead worked along into the charges by the detective’s “persistent” efforts to get Matson to engage in criminal acts which he otherwise wouldn’t do.
“The evidence, rather, demonstrates that (the detective), unsuccessfully, made every effort to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce him into saying that he was interested in children,” defense attorneys wrote.
They cited, for instance, a message Matson sent to the detective, which according to court records, read: “It was YOUR interest in kids and my curiosity about you wanting to add more non-judgmental friends into your family. … I have to get to know you before any of that becomes a remote possibility, right?”
But prosecutors, in their trial brief, retorted that Matson knew exactly what he was doing.
First, they pointed out, the Ninth Circuit concluded in United States v. Meek that “an actual minor victim is not required for an attempt conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b).”
Furthermore, “The guilt arises from the Defendant’s knowledge of what he intends to do,” the wrote. “In the case at bar, Matson’s knowledge is subjective … A jury could reasonably infer that Matson knowingly sought sexual activity with (the fictional minor), knowingly she was a minor. That he was mistaken in his knowledge of who was on the receiving end of his communications is irrelevant. Matson possessed the guilty mind required by the statue.”