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Press Release

Virginia Man Is Sentenced To 17.5 Years For Traveling To North Carolina To Engage In Sexual Activity With A Minor

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

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Today, James Edward Whisenant, Jr., 50, of Suffolk, Virginia, was sentenced to 210 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for traveling to Western North Carolina to engage in illicit sexual conduct, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. also ordered Whisenant to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison and to pay restitution in the amount of $39,500.

Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina joins U.S. Attorney King in making today's announcement. 

According to court documents and court proceedings, in March 2022, Whisenant began communicating with undercover agents expressing an interest in engaging in illicit sexual acts with a minor female child. On May 27, 2022, Whisenant traveled from his home in Virginia to the Western District of North Carolina for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with a female toddler and was subsequently arrested. Law enforcement conduced a forensic analysis of Whisenant’s electronic items seized as part of the investigation and recovered hundreds of images and videos containing child pornography.

On November 30, 2022, Whisenant pleaded guilty to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

U.S. Attorney King credited HSI with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

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 January 16, 2024

Project Safe Childhood