Ferndale police officer allegedly propositioned woman for sex with 12-year-old child

Denver Pratt/The Bellingham Herald
·6 min read

A Ferndale Police Department officer allegedly propositioned a woman he initially met while responding to a 911 call for sex with her and her 12-year-old daughter, and admitted his sexual attraction to children, according to court records.

Michael Scott Langton, 46, was charged July 28 in Whatcom County Superior Court with one count of attempted second-degree child molestation, a felony. Langton made his first appearance in court Thursday afternoon.

Court records detail communications between the woman and Langton, who allegedly told her he was “into ‘barely legal porn’.”

During his first appearance hearing, senior deputy prosecuting attorney Ben Pratt asked the court to set Langton’s bail at $100,000, said law enforcement were searching Langton’s electronic devices and that Langton may face additional charges in the future.

Pratt said there was an additional concern that Langton may interfere in the administration of justice. He said there are allegations that once Langton became aware he was being placed on leave from Ferndale police, law enforcement witnessed Langton start a fire, put documents in the fire and burn them. One of Langton’s phones seized by law enforcement was also factory reset before it was seized, Pratt said, and noted concerns regarding potential destruction of evidence.

Defense attorney Emily Beschen, who appeared as Langton’s attorney Thursday, asked that Langton be released on his personal recognizance. She said Langton, who lives in Blaine, has been an upstanding citizen and law enforcement officer in Whatcom County for nearly 20 years and noted his lack of criminal history.

Langton’s bail was set at $40,000. Records show he bonded out of the Skagit County Community Justice Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

As part of conditions of release, Langton is required to surrender any weapons to Bellingham police, an anti-harassment order was put in place between Langton and the victim’s mother and a sexual assault protection order was put in place between Langton and the minor child.

Langton’s arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 12, because he is out of custody.

Leave and lawsuits

Langton has been employed with the Ferndale Police Department since Aug. 30, 2012, and was previously employed with the Blaine Police Department.

Langton, whose yearly salary is $98,810, was placed on paid administrative leave from the Ferndale Police Department on July 26. Ferndale police have also started an internal affairs investigation. The department currently has 19 officers on staff, according to city of Ferndale spokesperson Riley Sweeney.

This is the second time Langton has been placed on paid administrative leave in less than a year. He was previously placed on leave in early October 2021 after he allegedly contacted a far-right extremist group.

He returned to duty less than a month later.

Langton has also been sued twice in federal court for allegedly violating people’s civil rights while doing his job. Both cases were settled out of court and dismissed.

The current case

On Tuesday, a Bellingham police detective met with a woman in her late 30s after she called 911 wanting to make a report about a Ferndale police officer, later identified as Langton, according to court records.

The woman told the detective she called 911 on July 10 to report a collision in the parking lot of her apartment complex. Langton responded to the 911 call, spoke to the woman and gathered her information because she was a witness to the crash.

The following day, on July 11, Langton returned to the woman’s apartment and knocked on the door, which the woman’s 12-year-old daughter answered, the court records state. Langton then called the woman and told her he forgot the name of her apartment complex, documents show.

The woman called Langton on July 12 to tell him one of her neighbors likely had video footage of the crash in the parking lot. Langton was not on duty at the time, but the pair spoke for around 45 minutes, records state.

That same day, Langton spoke with the woman using his personal cell phone number and asked the woman out on a date. The pair continued chatting and agreed to meet up on July 19, according to court records. During their conversations, in which the two spoke about sexual preferences, Langton allegedly told the woman he was “into ‘barely legal porn’,” asked about engaging in sex with multiple people and spoke about nude beaches, court records show.

On July 19, Langton added the woman on Signal, an encrypted messaging app. The woman went to Langton’s house that evening and Langton allegedly asked her to watch pornography with young girls in it with him. The woman told the Bellingham police detective Langton “kept referring to it as ‘barely legal porn’,” and the woman refused to watch it with him, records show.

During a later point in the evening, Langton allegedly asked the woman to “please watch 10-year-old porn with me,” court documents state.

The following week, Langton and the woman communicated daily using Signal. The woman took screenshots of their conversations, court records state.

During the course of their conversations, Langton allegedly made multiple references to being sexually attracted to children, telling the woman he wanted to explore with girls 12 years old or younger and made other sexually explicit statements, the documents state.

“I like illegal …. I think about it all the time,” Langton’s messages to the woman read, court records show.

Langton then sent several more sexually explicit messages to the woman before he allegedly asked the woman “Will you please play with me, I want to play with you and your daughter, nudist beach,” the court records show.

When the woman told Langton he crossed a line, he allegedly told her he believed the woman’s daughter was 18 years old, not 12, documents state.

The woman told Langton the clinical term for adults who are attracted to children 11–14, to which Langton put a heart on the message and responded “It’s weird, I just like young, Not sure why,” according to court records.

When asked Friday, July 29, whether the Ferndale Police Department had policies regarding law enforcement officers using the contact information of someone they initially contacted as part of a law enforcement matter for their own purposes or policies regarding officers initiating or seeking out relationships with people whose 911 calls they’ve responded to, excluding current partners or spouses, Sweeney, the city spokesperson, said there were related departmental policies.

When The Bellingham Herald asked for a copy of the related policies, Sweeney told The Herald it had to file a specific public records request.

When asked if this was the first time someone, be it a member of the public or current or former member of the department, has complained about Langton and his alleged sexual attraction to children, Sweeney said it was an ongoing investigation and declined to comment.

Resources

Brigid Collins Family Support Center: 360-734-4616, brigidcollins.org

Child Protective Services: Washington state hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect, 866-829-2153.

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services: 24-hour Help Line: 360-715-1563, Email: info@dvsas.org.

Lummi Victims of Crime: 360-312-2015.

Tl’ils Ta’á’altha Victims of Crime: 360-325-3310 or nooksacktribe.org/departments/youth-family-services/tlils-taaaltha-victims-of-crime-program/

Bellingham Police: You can call anonymously at 360-778-8611, or go online at cob.org/tips.

WWU Consultation and Sexual Assault Support Survivor Advocacy Services: 360-650-3700 or wp.wwu.edu/sexualviolence/.