A repeat sex offender named Robert Joe Childs has been outed as an FBI and Seattle Police Department informant infiltrating activist groups in the Pacific Northwest, including Salish CIRCA. He has been reported seen in Portland, Oregon, and Puyallup, Washington.
While details about the cases of his sexual assault convictions are unknown at this time, Childs’s sex offender status explains a few of the likelihoods: “[offenders] may not know their victim(s). The crime may show a manifest cruelty to the victim(s) and these offenders usually deny or minimize the crime”
Born around 1976, Robert Joe Childs led a relatively off-the-map until March 3, 1995. He was 22, and he had just been convicted of his first sexual assault: Rape in the Third Degree, in other words, forced, coercive sex. Two years later, he was convicted of his second and third offences: Child molestation in the third degree and failure to register as a sex offender. Convicted for sexual assault again no more than four years later, Childs was just 25, and he had three felony sexual assault convictions in the span of just over six years. The next time we see Childs is just ten years later, and he is working for the FBI.
Childs allegedly came to the FBI with information concerning a plan to attack Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington, using automatic rifles and grenades. Despite the fact that Childs is ranked as a Level 3 Sex Offender by the King County Sheriff’s Office, meaning that he is “considered to have a high risk to re-offend” and has “clear indications of a personality disorder,” the Seattle Police Department and FBI took him on as an informant—indeed, suspicious circumstances proliferate his career with the FBI, as this article will try to reveal.
In the words of US attorney Jenny Durkan, “It’s not the saints who can bring us the sinners.”
The defendants, Abdul-Latif and his would-be accomplice, Walli Mujahidh, both had histories of psychological challenges. One friend of the family, Dorothy Howard, referred to Mujahidh as a good natured, but gullible, person seeking treatment for his schizoaffective disorder. Abdul-Latif was suicidal, had hallucinations, and also sought treatment. Childs inserted himself into their lives like a cancer. Government records show that he stole thousands of dollars from Abdul-Latif, tried to romance his wife, and was big on sexual text messages in violation of his parole arrangement (he deleted messages from his phone to conceal this from his FBI handlers). For this, Childs was paid $90,000.
Childs agreed to provide M13 assault rifles, grenade launchers, and bulletproof vests. When the two came to Childs to inspect the weapons, they were arrested in a sting operation. Mujahidh received over 27 years in prison after pleading guilty, but Abdul-Latif pled not guilty and received an 18 year sentence after the judge revolted at the terrible interplay between the police and the informant. Seattle PD Detective Samuel DeJesus deleted over 400 text messages from Childs in spite of orders to the contrary. What was on those text messages? Was Childs openly entrapping Abdul-Latif? Bragging about sexual assault? Talking about previous FBI activity?
The Seattle Times reported that “Judge Robart criticized what he called the ‘at-best sloppy’ destruction of potential evidence by an informant—identified as Robert Childs, a five-times convicted sex offender—and Seattle police Detective Samuel DeJesus [Childs’ handler], who deleted more than 400 text messages from [Childs’ and from his] cellphones, after he’d been told to preserve them.” Incidentally, the notion that Childs is a five-times convicted sex offender carries a new kind of weight, since records show he has three felony convictions and one non-felony for failure to register. Where did the other two convictions go? Possibly they occurred in another state? We can only speculate, or imagine that the Times got it wrong.
The next time we pick Childs up, he is again working undercover—this time embedded in the Seattle-based activist group, Salish Salish Circa Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA). Formed around the May 1, 2012 demonstrations, CIRCA is a clown group based on Theater of the Oppressed principles. CIRCA seeks to parody social life in Seattle, and has appeared in numerous protests, from zoo protests to marches, and solidarity actions. “Our weapons are bubble wands, whistles, and high-pitched voices,” declares CIRCA member Lewtenant Gonzo. “I only see it growing. Everybody’s welcome to be a clown.”
In the police hysteria over May Day actions that saw a minimal amount of property destruction, numerous activists have been called before grand juries, and Childs positioned himself in a clown group likely to entrap the activists into “bigger plans.” On June 13, 2013, a woman named Tawnee Cowan opened up to the public on her blog No Means No about her sexual confrontations with Childs, who was going by Robert Vincent or Sarg’nt Yell’r at the time (Childs’s other aliases include Zechariah Childs, A.M. Khan, Ismail White, and Zech Zelli.).
Cowan writes, “[this] creep likes to troll coffee shops in search of young or new or pretty activists… he has a certain charm which is quite gross, so don’t even waste your energy trying to humor him.. Watch out if he starts in about the spider bite, he will drop his pants in a heart beat… comando [sic], and shove the spot where the little scar is by his groin… if that is not enough, this lovely dude has been in Washington State Prison for 2.5 years for assault by his own admission shortly after he dropped his pants…” If it is true that Childs spent only two and a half years behind bars for three sexual assault felonies, his record with the FBI becomes even more suspicious.
Cowan recorded the following facebook conversation with Childs:
Cowan: I do not care about words, I care about actions. I have seen enough of your actions to say I am done.
Childs: “The bottom of the barrel. I should be used to that[.] Very well, I will respect your request as I have before when you asked me to stop
Cowan: um… after the 4th time I asked you to stop it does not matter, I do not trust you. If my life depends on it out there when life gets really thick with the revolution I know who not to count on
Childs: “I admit to that, and I also asked you forgiveness. When you told me that you wanted me to bring things down a notch, I did, and I have you respect I’ve told you before that I am not the best functioner [sic] when I’m stoned”
Cowan: Respect would have never tried to reach up my skirt… respect would have not coming up behind me at my house and trapping me in a hug.. respect would have been stop touching my ass 3 fucking times in less than 10 minutes. Respect would have been not trying to grab my ass when I walked by you the first week at b.c. respect would have been letting me shut my door without forcing a fucking kiss.
According to Cowan, Childs was living on a house boat in Seattle at the time, and “He video tapes and audio tapes his boat and car (his friend Jon divulged that bit of info)… total sicko.” In other words, Childs was not making a sincere attempt to hide the fact that he was blatantly and completely miked-up. This situation echoes the notorious miked-up cabin scenario, where an FBI informant going by the name of Ana used sexual advances to entrap a young activist named Eric McDavid, who is currently serving a 20-year sentence without having committed a single crime.
A Facebook page about Childs explains, “This person admitted publicly & openly on FBook that he was charged & convicted 3 times in the state of WA (AND incarcerated). But neglected to include his Informant Status or his other 2 convictions!!
“He was last seen in the Portland[, Oregon,]-area. Then recently in the Puyallup-area. He is reported to be traveling on a renovated school bus, possibly with a young female companion.
“He MAY have recently attended a NW Rainbow event and/or another music festival in Oregon. He MAY be attempting to infiltrate the Rainbow Family community. He may have altered his appearance again.”
That the FBI has hired a three-time sex offender and drug user as an informant should come as no surprise—in fact, it’s basically standard practice. Alexandra Natapov writing for Prison Legal News explains, “informants often continue to commit crimes, while the information they provide is infamously unreliable. Taken together, these facts make snitching an important and problematic aspect of the way America does justice.”
Be careful, folks, and spread the word about informants and perpetrators. We need to come together as a community to expose and ban these people. The activist community is inclusive, until it comes down to sexual assault and predation. One important reason to keep perpetrators out of our midst is that they are the type of people who often become or already are snitches.
See Kristian Williams’s article, “Profiles of Provocateurs” for more.
[Editor’s Note: Folks may also find the article “Why Misogynists Make Great Informants” of interest.]