Suffolk man sentenced to 17.5 years for traveling to engage in sexual activity with a minor

Published 9:17 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

A Suffolk man has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for traveling to North Carolina to engage in “illicit sexual conduct.”

James Edward Whisenant, Jr., 50, of Suffolk, was sentenced on Jan. 16, 2024, 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.


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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 conducted 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 Nov. 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 the 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