Cherokee County Man Pleads Guilty To Multiple Felony Counts In “Sextortion” Prosecution
ATLANTA – Destin Whitmore has pleaded guilty to threatening and extorting teen girls with sexually explicit images of themselves, and to distributing and possessing child pornography.
“Whitmore preyed on vulnerable girls who had the misfortune of crossing his path, both in person and online,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “We cannot emphasize enough the dangers to children of revealing personal information and sexually explicit images to others online. This case shows that those images could resurface in the most unexpected and unfortunate ways.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “Today’s guilty plea will begin the process of removing a manipulative child predator from our streets. The criminal conduct of Mr. Whitmore, as well as those like him, ensures that the FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in providing significant investigative resources toward the protection of our nation’s youth from those that would exploit or harm them.”
“In our continued partnership with the F.B.I., the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and as a member of I.C.A.C. (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force, the Cobb County Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those individuals who seek to exploit and harm our children,” said Sergeant Dana Pierce, Public Information Officer, Cobb County Police Department.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the criminal indictment, and information presented in court: In April 2012, a teen girl in Arizona reported that she was contacted using a popular social media website by an individual using a profile name “Ralph Jenkins.” The individual using the “Jenkins” profile, later identified as Destin Whitmore, sent back to the teen compromising images of herself that she had previously sent to Whitmore, and threatened to send those images to others, including her family members, if she did not immediately create additional images for him.
A subsequent investigation of that profile, along with a profile using the name “Lenny Carlington” showed that both profiles were used by the Defendant, along with his own social media accounts, to transmit pornographic images of numerous teen girls back to the girls to extort them for additional images. If they did not comply with his demands, he threatened to distribute the pornographic images to others and post them on various websites for public consumption. Many of the girls Whitmore extorted were known to him through personal relationships or through long term communications using web cameras with the girls online. Some of the girls had previously sent sexually explicit images to Whitmore or had provided such images to others, which Whitmore subsequently obtained.
Whitmore, 23, of Canton, Ga., pleaded guilty to five counts of extortion, three counts of distribution of child pornography, and two counts of possession of child pornography. Sentencing for Whitmore is scheduled for December 9, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr.
This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims.
This case was investigated by the Cobb County Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jill E. Steinberg and Mary L. Webb are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.