COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – An Augusta man has plead guilty in a Columbus child sexual abuse case involving two local children.
Todd Matthew Jones, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor. He was taken into custody on Dec. 1, 2018. Jones faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a possible maximum of life imprisonment for each count and a $250,000 fine, according to the US Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Georgia.
There is no parole in the federal system, though Jones could have a supervised release of no less than five years up to a lifetime of supervision. He will be sentenced on Feb. 24, 2021.
“Jones is a manipulative child predator who has gravely harmed vulnerable youth. He will face the consequences for his crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Charles Peeler. “I hope this case reinforces the importance for all parents to remain vigilant about the dangers on social media, and how quickly and easily young people can be tricked and enticed into an abusive, destructive relationship. I encourage all citizens to report suspicious online activity to the authorities. I want to thank the Columbus Police Department and the FBI for their work in this case.”
Officials say that Jones pretended to be a teenager, then met a 13-year-old male middle schooler over Snapchat. In his plea agreement, Jones says he sent explicit photos of himself to the victim, and encouraged him to do so as well, which he did.
After more conversations over snapchat, the US Attorney’s Office says that Jones came to Columbus to meet with the victim.
Investigators say the victim told them he hoped Jones would by him a vaping kit, but instead sexually abused him. The victim’s mother found out about the relationship and Jones was taken into custody Dec. 1, 2018.
The victim told investigators that Jones had told him “he sold ‘boy porn’ online.” While investigating, officials say agents found a second victim, a 16-year-old victim who said she met Jones over Snapchat and would sneak out to meet with him. Officials say she was also encouraged to, and did, send Jones sexually explicit photos of herself.
“The facts of this case are disturbing and demonstrate how a sexual predator can easily use social media apps to victimize innocent children,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will always make it a top priority to hold child predators accountable for their heinous crimes and educate the community about the dangers of communicating with strangers on the internet.”