BOISE -- A 39-year-old Boise man will spend the next 17 years in prison after he was sentenced Wednesday in federal court for exploiting children and creating child pornography.
Ryan Matthews entered into a plea deal with U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson back in June. In the deal, Matthews agreed to plead guilty to the charge of sexual exploitation of children / production of sexually explicit images of a minor.
However, the story of Matthews' crime begins years ago.
THE BETRAYAL OF FRIENDSHIP
Six years ago, a Boise mother dropped her kids off for a couple hours with a friend. Her daughters, two and five years old at the time, were used to make explicit videos. She spoke to us Wednesday, but asked not to be identified. We call her "Mary."
"Mary" worked with Ryan Matthews. She had gone to his house with her daughters before.
"I never saw any interaction that was in any way inappropriate, nothing of him looking at them wrong. He never even sat on the same side of the room," she said.
Matthews later told police he babysat "Mary's" daughters two times. The second time, he filmed them nude.
"Mary" did not find out Matthews made videos with her daughters until a Boise police officer came to her house in January of this year.
"He (the police officer) came over and opened his folder, and it was a black and white photo of my younger daughter," she said.
POLICE INVESTIGATE MATTHEWS
Boise Police began investigating Matthews in 2011. Court documents say Boise Police software showed someone at Matthews' IP address downloaded files of suspected child pornography. When they confirmed it was Ryan Matthews' computer, they went to his house, where he admitted to searching for child pornography.
Police left his house with 224 CD/DVD disks with titles "consistent with child pornography," hundreds of printed photos of child pornography, and Mini DV tapes. On one of the Mini DV tapes was an explicit video with young girls later identified as Mary's daughters.
Police also found searches in Matthews' internet history files that included the titles and terms, "Child Molestation: The six steps to grooming," and "How to molest a child." According to court documents, those searches were performed on November 6, 2011.
In court Wednesday, "Mary" said, "I thought he was a friend. I never had any idea who he really was." "Mary's" mother also spoke in court. She worries about the impact this will have on her granddaughters in the future.
Matthews' father, Jerry Matthews, also spoke in court. "We don't condone what happened," Jerry Matthews said. He also said that Ryan was "a model son" and gave away money to others for food and gifts.
Jerry Matthews said his son even pawned his own things to help other people.
"I'm afraid all the goodwill will be lost in all this, even though we don't condone it," Jerry Matthews said.
RYAN MATTHEWS: 'I WANT HELP'
When Ryan Matthews spoke in court, he said the hardest thing was hearing the impact on the victims' families and his family.
"I want help," he said. "I just don't want to hurt anyone ever again."
Judge Winmill sentenced Matthews to 17-and-a-half years in prison, with supervised probation for the rest of his life. Matthews will be a registered sex offender.
Since he has no ability to pay a fine, the judge waived it. However, Matthews will pay restitution. He will also have to get mental health treatment, stay at least 300 feet away from areas with children, and not participate in a romantic relationship with a woman with minor children.
"Mary" has a warning for other parents:
"Just pay attention to your children. I think that the only way you can really detect things like this is if your children have changes in behavior," she said. "Just be as careful as you can. Be in tune with your child. I don't think that really by focusing on other people you can know."