TACOMA — One of Weldon Marc Gilbert’s victims said he was “scarred for life” by the sexual abuse forced on him by a man he had trusted. Another said he would never forget the “horror and shame” of what happened to him.
The parents of a third victim said their son sought escape from his trauma by turning to heroin and other addictions.
But the millionaire Lake Tapps pilot and former Chelan County resident — who had lured the boys and more than a dozen others into sadistic sexual abuse with offers of flying lessons, trips, alcohol and even help with homework — asked for their forgiveness anyway Monday in a Tacoma courtroom.
He turned to face his victims and, using their names, said he “deeply cared” about them and had “never meant to hurt anyone.”
Gilbert, 49, who admitted using money, power, alcohol and pornography to lure vulnerable boys and teens into sadistic sexual acts with him and others while videotaping the encounters, said, “I didn’t see teenage guys as vulnerable. I felt like a peer.”
U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle then sentenced Gilbert to the 25-year maximum sentence allowed under a plea deal he had agreed to in April.
Just days before he was to face trial, Gilbert pleaded guilty to 31 counts of production of child pornography involving 17 victims, one as young as 10; two counts of transporting a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity; and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Rogoff said that throughout the case Gilbert had shown little remorse and that his words sound like those of an untreated pedophile.
According to the prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum, Gilbert consistently referred to the sexual activities he had with boys as “consensual,” attempted to influence his victims’ testimony by threatening to reveal even more “humiliating” videotapes he’d taken of them, and called his crimes lapses in “judgment.”
Prosecutors say Gilbert videotaped many of his victims, and some videos show him spanking or caning them until their bare bottoms were bruised and blistered. Victims can be heard pleading and screaming for him to stop, according to prosecutors.
Gilbert was arrested on Nov. 1, 2007, two days after two men reported that he had molested their younger brothers, ages 13 and 18, according to state and federal court documents.
The 18-year-old told authorities that he met Gilbert when he was 12, after his father died, and that he had been living with Gilbert for the past several months, court papers said. The man said since 2001 Gilbert had spanked him, leaving welts, cuts and bruises on his body.
The 18-year-old said Gilbert had a special darkroom in his Lake Tapps home where he “molests, ties up and spanks children for sexual purposes,” according to federal court papers.
As part of the plea agreement, Gilbert agreed to forfeit to the government two cars, a helicopter, a floatplane and a boat. The forfeited items will be sold and the proceeds placed in a fund to benefit the victims.
Gilbert, known as Marc since his time as a student at Manson High School, was a frequent visitor on his floatplane to Lake Chelan and also filmed a sexually explicit video in the former Stehekin schoolhouse, authorities have said. The one-room building is no longer used as a school but remains open to the public.
Chelan County Sheriff Mike Harum has said that four boys from Chelan and Manson told investigators they had sexual contact with Gilbert after he flew them back to Pierce County. Harum said in April there are no Chelan County charges pending against Gilbert.
Wenatchee World staff contributed to this report.