Home News Stories 2006 March Virginia Man Sentenced in Landmark Obscenity Case

Virginia Man Sentenced in Landmark Obscenity Case

Protecting Our Children
Virginia Man Sentenced in Landmark Obscenity Case

03/10/06

Cyber graphic with FBI sealTwo years ago, Dwight Whorley went to a local office of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) in Richmond, ostensibly to look for jobs online. Instead, he used the state’s computer to download and send Japanese “anime” cartoons showing graphic acts of child pornography.

Because of a 2003 federal obscenity law, that’s illegal . The law, designed to help protect children from sexual exploitation, makes it a federal crime to produce or distribute obscene drawings, cartoons, paintings, or any other visual representations involving the sexual abuse of children.

On December 1, Whorley—who had spent time in jail on previous federal child pornography charges—became the first person in the U.S. to be convicted under the 2003 law. On Friday (March 10), he was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $7,400.

How’d he get caught? Alert employees at the VEC saw Whorley print the images, and they told a supervisor. The supervisor called the police, who contacted us. Our computer experts in Richmond and from the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice extracted evidence from the computer, and a Japanese linguist at FBI headquarters translated the text of the cartoons to provide further proof of the cartoons’ content.

FBI Agent Gerald Kim, who led our investigation in Richmond, said the cartoons were extremely graphic. “There was no doubt about what was being depicted,” Kim said.

The Japanese anime was just part of the case against Whorley. Our cyber experts found digital photographs of child porn on the same VEC computer. Whorley had also used it to send explicit e-mails to a young girl and for other e-mails describing the sexual abuse of children—further violations of federal obscenity laws. In the end, we were able to link Whorley to the pornography, e-mails and other evidence on the computer. He was convicted of a total of 74 counts of obscenity and child pornography.

“We worked on this day and night to verify that he was the person using that specific computer at certain times,” Kim said.

But our work didn’t stop there. By examining the computer Whorley used, our agents were able to identify and track down other peddlers of child pornography, leading to a recent arrest by agents from our St. Joseph, Michigan, office near Detroit. Other cases are in motion.

How can you help protect your children from becoming victims of sexual exploitation? Check out A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety and other resources on our Online Child Pornography Program webpage, our Crimes Against Children webpage, and the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section webpage.