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Press Release

Charlottesville Bodybuilding Coach Pleads Guilty to Child Exploitation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Elliott Atwell Victimized At Least Six Minors Using Social Media

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A Charlottesville-based virtual bodybuilding coach, who sexually exploited at least six minors over the course of three years, pled guilty today to federal child exploitation and child pornography charges.

Elliott Atwell, 34, pled guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of, and access with the intent to view, child pornography. At sentencing, Atwell faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a possible maximum penalty of 30 years.

According to court documents, between December 2013 and April 2020, Atwell manipulated at least six minors to record themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct and then send those recordings to him.

In efforts to gain the victims’ trust and willingness to participate, Atwell sent them gifts, including a digital camera, sex toys, Viagra, lubricant and other items. Atwell then gave detailed instructions on what sexual activities he wanted performed and captured on video.

In addition, the FBI searched Atwell’s iCloud account, which contained over 300 images and video files depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including images of prepubescent boys engaged in sex acts.

The FBI remains committed to identifying and pursuing potential additional victims of Atwell’s conduct. If you have information that may be helpful, please contact the FBI tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or reach out online at

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Smith and Trial Attorney Jessica Urban of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 June 13, 2024

Project Safe Childhood