Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian, Eastern District of Tennessee
RETIRED CLAIBORNE COUNTY EDUCATOR SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CHILD SEX CRIMES
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. -- Joseph Wayne Jennings, 55, of Claiborne County, Tenn., was sentenced on Jan. 4, 2011, to 300 months in prison in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville, by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, United States District Judge. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea by Jennings on Dec. 4, 2009, to a federal indictment charging him with attempted enticement of a minor, distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography.
Judge Greer noted at the sentencing hearing that the crimes committed by Jennings were heinous and considered disgusting by most people and the public. He also found that Jennings is a pedophile with a high risk of recidivism and justified the sentence by the very strong need to protect the public from Jennings.
A citizen brought Jennings to the attention of law enforcement after she received internet messages from him actively seeking sexual intercourse with a child. He was arrested on June 10, 2009, at a motel in Morristown, Tenn., when he drove to engage what he believed to be a young mother and her eight-year-old daughter in sexual intercourse.
Jennings retired from the Claiborne County School System in 2007 after 30 years of service as a teacher, principal, and tutor.
The indictment, guilty plea and subsequent sentencing of Jennings was the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Knoxville Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Hamblen County and Claiborne County Sheriff’s Departments and the Morristown Police Department assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith represented the United States.
This case was brought as part of Public Safe Childhood (PSC), a Department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal 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 visit ProjectSafeChildhood.gov.