Nicholas Robert Bowen, 63, of Grizzly Flat, pleaded guilty Thursday to receipt and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
The bizarre case began in Davis last year when Mr. Bowen brought Wenyi Xu, 30, who was sentenced in October to three years and eight months in state prison, to a Davis park.
Mr. Bowen then had her expose herself to 10- to 12-year-old boys while Bowen filmed using a spy camera built into his glasses. They were arrested by Davis police. A subsequent search of Mr. Bowen’s phone and computer discovered over 600 images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Mr. Bowen is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Troy L. Nunley on February 19, 2015. Mr. Bowen faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, according to a release from US Attorney Benjamin Wagner, “however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Davis Police Department, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, and the Sacramento Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. ICAC is a federally and state-funded task force managed by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department with agents from federal, state, and local agencies. The Sacramento ICAC investigates online child exploitation crimes, including child pornography, enticement, and sex trafficking. Assistant United States Attorney Todd A. Pickles is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
In October, Ms. Xu pleaded “no contest” to all twelve of the counts, which included conspiracy, lewd conduct, child annoyance, and disorderly conduct. Additionally, Ms. Xu took nude pictures of her toddler for Bowen’s enjoyment.
Judge Reed determined that Ms. Xu was participating willingly and was not doing it to advance her career, as she claimed. Ms. Xu was married and worked for the state of California when the crimes occurred.
On May 24, 2013, video evidence shows both Ms. Xu and Bowen at a Davis skate park observing a group of boys. Ms. Xu approached the boys with her dress unbuttoned, and began to participate in flashing the young boys. Bowen, whose voice is heard in the video, seems to be recording the exposure that is taking place.
Further evidence discovered by Investigator Pearson shows disturbing text messages exchanged between Xu and Bowen. On April 25, Xu was found sending a picture to Bowen of herself nude, at the edge of a bed, with her legs spread apart. Also in the group of text messages, Ms. Xu is found sending a picture of her own two-year-old, straddled nude in the same position at the edge of the same bed.
These pictures were then collaged and resent back to Ms. Xu from Bowen’s phone, along with a text message asking if Bowen can masturbate while looking at the picture of the two-year-old daughter nude. Ms. Xu responded back with agreement, showing that she was accepting the disturbing request presented by Bowen.
There were a total of 4,000 text messages exchanged between Mr. Bowen and Ms. Xu, many of which show acts of pedophilia. Although Xu claimed that there was nothing between them, digital evidence presented by Pearson shows otherwise.
The crime occurred in Davis as Davis Police responded to a call on a city-owned greenbelt near the Covell bike over-crossing on the north side of Community Park, after a worker in the area saw a female exposing herself to two passing juveniles.
Police would learn that, while the female exposed herself, a male who was with her took photos or video of the exhibition.
Officers responded to the area and located the male and female associated with the call. During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Ms. Xu, of Folsom, had intentionally disrobed and exposed herself to two juveniles as they rode past her location on bicycles.
As Ms. Xu exposed herself, Mr. Bowen photographed or videoed the episode. When Ms. Xu exposed herself, one juvenile fell off his bicycle, but did not appear to be injured. The juvenile left the scene and has not been identified.
—David M. Greenwald reporting