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Press Release

Repeat Sex Offender Sentenced To 40 Years

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Roland Vance Watson, 55, of Hickory, N.C., was sentenced today to 40 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for producing child pornography and committing a felony involving a minor while being required to register as a sex offender, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Watson was also ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.

Kyle Burns, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, and Chief Reed Baer of the Hickory Police Department join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

The criminal investigation began in January 2023, after law enforcement received information from a concerned adult that Watson had exchanged inappropriate text messages with a minor female. According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, investigators determined that, between August 2021 and February 2023, Watson had sexually abused three minor females on multiple occasions. Three cell phones seized from Watson and Watson’s home were forensically analyzed and multiple sexually explicit text messages were recovered between Watson and one of the minors.  In some of the texts, Watson induced the minor to send him explicit images and videos of herself in exchange for gifts and candy. The phones also contained child pornography produced by Watson that depicted Watson sexually abusing the minors and other sexually explicit images and videos featuring the minors in various states of undress.

According to court records, in 1991, Watson was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in New Jersey. As part of Watson’s sentence, he was ordered to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board in any state or jurisdiction where he worked or resided. Court documents show that after Watson moved to North Carolina, he failed to register as a sex offender.

Watson will remain in federal custody pending placement by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The investigation was conducted by HSI and the Hickory Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Cervantes, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, 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 (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood 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 Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated May 9, 2024

Project Safe Childhood