Authorities say William Brook Knowles had been engaging in illicit online chats with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl from Portland, The Oregonian newspaper reported in Saturday editions. The girl actually was Special Agent Joel Brillhart, a member of the FBI’s Innocent Images task force. The task force targets people trafficking in child pornography or enticing children to meet them for sex.
Knowles is being held in a Multnomah County detention center on an accusation of traveling in interstate commerce with the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. He did not enter a plea Friday and is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing.
Knowles’ court-appointed attorney, Nancy Bergeson, an assistant federal defender, told U.S. Magistrate Dennis Hubel that Knowles’ financial situation is “pretty dismal” and that he cooperated with authorities. She said Knowles, who has no criminal record, is a married father of a 17-year-old girl.
Knowles denied arranging to meet the girl for sex and said he planned to meet a woman to have sex, according to court records.
The FBI says Knowles, who has his own law firm, arranged to meet with the girl Thursday night at a MAX light rail station. Authorities said he checked into a hotel room, where agents executing a search warrant found chains, whips, a mask and other bondage-related items. Agents also seized what they thought was OxyContin, Viagra, marijuana and methamphetamine from the room.
The sexually graphic chats between Knowles and Brillhart, posing as a girl, took place in a chat room called “taboo.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Nyhus told Hubel during Friday’s hearing that Knowles poses a risk to the public.
“The goal of the defendant last night was to subject a 14-year-old girl to a new version of hell,” Nyhus said.