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Press Release

Columbia County man sentenced to federal prison for distributing sexually explicit images of children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Images were uploaded to online messaging applications

AUGUSTA, GA:  A Columbia County man who serves in the U.S. Army has been sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison after uploading sexually explicit images of children to the internet.

Joshua Paul Barnhill, 41, of Martinez, Ga., was sentenced to 151 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to Distribution of Child Pornography, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen also ordered Barnhill to pay restitution of $21,000, to register as a sex offender, and to serve 15 years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Joshua Barnhill shared sexually explicit images of young children to online messaging applications for exploitation by other viewers,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “Such exploitative conduct has earned him substantial prison time.”

As described in court documents and testimony, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent a CyberTip to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to alert investigators about sexually explicit images and videos of children shared by the KIK internet messaging app.

Agents learned the images originated from Barnhill’s location, and found hundreds of images and videos on devices Barnhill used to upload images to the KIK and Wickr applications.

Barnhill is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, serving as a recruiter operating from Fort Jackson, S.C.

“The GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit will continue to work tirelessly to protect innocent victims of online exploitation,” said Chris Hosey, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “We are grateful for the partnerships we maintain with our local and federal agencies to bring these predators to justice.”

The case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Jason W. Blanchard.

Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or


Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422

Updated September 21, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 73-23