MISSOULA — A Kalispell man accused of taking sexually explicit photographs of a child while boating on Ashley Lake pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child charges on Wednesday.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson, 43-year-old Edward Timothy Cockerham faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years to 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing in the case was set for Jan. 27, 2022, before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen and Cockerham was detained pending further proceedings.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that on June 24, Cockerham went to Ashley Lake and was accompanied by two children. Cockerham took the victim, who was under the age of 18 and was identified as Jane Doe 1, boating. While out on the water, Cockerham touched and took sexually explicit pictures of Jane Doe 1.
Jane Doe 1 reported Cockerham’s actions. The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office later seized Cockerham’s cell phone and searched it pursuant to a warrant. An initial review determined Cockerham had deleted all of the images from his cell phone.
The Sheriff’s Office then obtained a second search warrant and sent the cell phone to the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation computer lab. A forensic examiner located sexually explicit images of Jane Doe 1.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.