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Press Release

Bristol, Virginia Man Arrested on Federal Child Exploitation Charges

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

ABINGDON, Va. – A Bristol, Virginia, man who is accused of messaging who he thought was a 14-year-old girl but was actually an online covert employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was arrested Saturday on a federal criminal complaint and charged with child exploitation and child pornography crimes. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today.

Jonathan Neal Sexton, 34, of Bristol, Va., was arrested at a residence in Bristol, Virginia, Saturday and charged with sexual exploitation of children and activities relating to the distribution of child pornography.

“At a time when our children are increasingly reliant on the Internet for distance learning and social interaction, parents need to be especially vigilant to protect them from online predators,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We will continue to work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to identify and arrest those who utilize social media to prey on minors.”

“Protecting children from all forms of exploitation, including that which occurs online, is one of law enforcement’s highest duties,” Special Agent in Charge Archey said today. “The FBI and its law enforcement partners will use all available tools to identify and arrest child predators, hold them accountable and protect our communities.  We encourage parents, caregivers, guardians and teachers to remain vigilant to this threat and report suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately. We are grateful for the assistance of the USAO WDVA, the US Marshal’s Service and the Bristol PD for their assistance on this case.” 

According to the charging documents, between February 28, 2020 and his arrest on Saturday, Sexton used the chat application KIK to correspond with who he believed to be a 14-year-old female. The 14-year-old was actually an undercover employee of an FBI Human Trafficking & Child Exploitation Task Force. During these chats, despite the “teen” being in the “clean area” of the KIK app, Sexton engaged the “teen” in conversations about masturbation, sex toys, sexual intercourse, and other topics. He also sent pictures of sex toys and videos of himself masturbating. He routinely asked the “teen” to send him nude pictures, and referenced the time when they could see each other and engage in sexual conduct.  On multiple occasions, Sexton sent the “teen” pictures of prepubescent females nude and engaging with prepubescent males in sexual conduct. The defendant claimed he engaged in such sexual conduct with the individuals depicted in the pictures in the past.

The investigation of this case is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia State Police, United States Marshal’s Service, and the Bristol, Virginia Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorneys Zachary T. Lee and Lena Busscher are prosecuting the case for the United States.

Updated May 4, 2020