05/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/03/2021 14:46
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A Mathews County man was sentenced today to life in prison for engaging in a conspiracy to produce child pornography in connection with a purported 'teen modeling' endeavor.
'As the evidence at trial demonstrated, the defendant preyed on, manipulated, and abused defenseless young girls,' said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. 'Our Office expresses its gratitude to the trial and law enforcement team for their relentless efforts in bringing the defendant to justice and holding him accountable for repeatedly victimizing children.'
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, William Wellington Hooper, Jr., 54, conspired with Jennifer Hutchens, 54, of Gloucester, to produce images of child sexual abuse of Jane Doe #1, a 15-year-old girl, and her 14-year-old friend, Jane Doe #2. During the months of April and May 2019, Hooper and Hutchens coerced Jane Doe #1 to engage in sexually explicit conduct in Gloucester County and Mathews County.
'Every case involving child sexual exploitation is difficult, but the level of manipulation and abuse carried out in this case is especially disturbing,' said Special Agent in Charge Raymond Villanueva for the HSI Washington, D.C. Field Office. 'This individual deserved nothing less than a life sentence and HSI will continue to diligently investigate these crimes against children and rid our communities of these atrocious offenders.'
Hutchens, at the request of Hooper, also recruited other minor girls to pose for sexually explicit photographs in what Hooper called a 'teen modeling' endeavor. Hooper promised these children, whose families were struggling financially, that they would be compensated. He specifically promised that Jane Doe #1 could make almost $3 million if she obeyed him completely. Hooper also asked Hutchens to find younger children for his photographs. In explaining his request, Hooper said that '[l]egal doesn't matter' and suggested that Hutchens could get access to younger children by running a daycare, for which she could '[s]pecialize in problem girls between the ages of 8 and 12.'
A jury convicted Hooper at trial of conspiracy to produce child pornography, production of child pornography, and coercion and enticement of a child. Hutchens previously pleaded guilty to producing child pornography and was sentenced to 23 years' imprisonment on October 13, 2020.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney's Offices and the 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 www.justice.gov/psc.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; L. Mark Barrick, Mathews County Sheriff; Darrell W. Warren, Jr., Gloucester County Sheriff; and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge David J. Novak.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa R. McKeel, Howard J. Zlotnick, and Brittany M. Fisher prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:20-cr-18.