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Friday, December 4, 2009

Department of Justice

United States Attorney James R. Dedrick Eastern District of Tennessee


JOE JENNINGS PLEADS GUILTY TO FOUR CHILD SEX OFFENSES

Former Claiborne County Principal Caught by Undercover Officers

[GREENEVILLE, Tenn] -Joseph “Joe” Wayne Jennings, 54, of New Tazewell, Tenn, entered a plea of guilty on December 4, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville, to four child sex offenses, including one count related to the attempted enticement of a minor for illegal sexual activity. Sentencing has been set for May 3, 2010, at 9 a.m. in United States District Court in Greeneville.

Jennings pled guilty to the indictment, which presented four counts. As regards the attempted enticement of a minor count, he faces a minimum term of ten year in prison and a maximum term of life in prison. As to the two counts for the distribution and receipt of child pornography, Jennings faces a minimum term of five years in prison and a maximum term of twenty years in prison on each count. On the possession of child pornography count, Jennings faces a maximum term ten years in prison. Additionally, he faces a total potential fine of $1,250,000; $400 in special mandatory assessments; and supervised release for life.

Jennings was arrested on June 12, 2009, when he drove from his home to a motel in Morristown, Tenn, to meet what he believed to be an adult woman and her eight-year-old daughter for the purpose of engaging them in sexual activity. Officers of the Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce (KPD-ICAC), worked undercover with the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) after Jennings solicited sex with children online from a citizen-witness who reported him to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Jennings will remain in federal custody as he has been since his arrest on June 12, 2009.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006, by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. This indictment was the result of an ongoing investigation by the KPD-ICAC and the FBI. Helen Smith, Assistant United States Attorney represented the United States.

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