Virginia Man Sentenced to 180 Months in Prison for Attempted Production of Child Pornography and Traveling in Interstate Commerce for Illicit Sexual Conduct
Knoxville, Tenn. - Gregory Lynn McKnight, Jr., 28, of Clintwood, Virginia, was sentenced on September 29, 2020, by the Honorable R. Leon Jordan, Senior U.S. District Judge, to serve 180 months in federal prison for attempting to coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography and traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. Following his imprisonment, McKnight will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 15 years and will be required to register with the state sex offender registry in any state in which he lives, works, or attends school.
The investigation began after the parents of a minor female informed local a law enforcement agency that McKnight had contacted their daughter on social media and began sending messages of a sexual nature to her. During the undercover investigation, McKnight attempted to get the minor to send him sexually explicit depictions of her and to meet for sex. McKnight drove from Virginia to Tennessee for the purpose of having sex with the girl.
“This prosecution represents part of our efforts to work with law enforcement agencies to protect children from persons who try to groom children online for child pornography and other illicit purposes,” said J. Douglas Overbey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee. U.S. Attorney Overbey encourages parents to be vigilant concerning the online activities of their children. “These predators operate from the shadows of the internet, pretend to befriend young people, and then prey upon the minors’ vulnerability to induce them to send sexual images and videos, unbeknownst to their parents.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. Morris and Jennifer Kolman represented the United States in Court.
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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.