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Whisnant bond increases to $100k with eight more child porn charges

Published 10:51pm Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office charged a Columbus man with eight additional counts of child pornography related offenses and increased the bond to $100,000 this week.

Jonathan Michael Whisnant, 41, of 60 Overlook Circle, Columbus, was originally charged with one count of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor on Jan. 27 and was charged with an additional eight counts of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor this week, according to sheriff reports.

After a lengthy joint investigation with federal agents, the sheriff’s office conducted a search warrant at Whisnant’s home on Jan. 22 where they discovered images and videos of child pornography and seized several laptop computers, according to sheriff reports.

Officers said after further investigation of the materials located in Whisnant’s home, the additional eight counts were issued. Whisnant is accused of sending and receiving downloads of child pornography.

Adult pornography is not illegal but child pornography is a class E felony in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, a charge of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor can be issued for every underage child discovered in a video.

According to North Carolina General Statute 14-190.17, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor includes when a person records, photographs, films, develops or duplicates material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity; or distributes, transports, exhibits, receives, sells, purchases, exchanges or solicits material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity. The law specifically states that mistake of age is no defense.

Officers said Whisnant had no prior criminal history. Whisnant is a former substitute teacher for Polk County Schools. He was not employed at the time of his arrest.

As of Monday, Feb. 10, Whisnant was still being held in jail.

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