AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRBL) – An Augusta woman has pleaded guilty in what investigators describe as a “heinous” case involving child sex trafficking. On Thursday, Amanda Gunn, also known as Amanda Howard, pleaded guilty to one count of Sex Trafficking Conspiracy in federal court.
“As this disturbing case continues to move forward, we continue to be determined to find justice for the victim and hold accountable those guilty of this horrific exploitation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes.
Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, called the case “one of the most heinous crimes” the FBI has investigated.
“The FBI has zero tolerance for the sex trafficking of children and will continue to work tirelessly to protect children and to prosecute those involved in exploiting them,” said Hacker.
Gunn, 34, faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, but is eligible for a life sentence.
Gunn’s former husband, Michael Gunn, 36, of Evans, has also been indicted in the case.
“As our investigation of this case unfolded it became more and more disturbing as charges are now filed against both a husband and wife,” said Hacker.
In March 2020, Michael Gunn was charged with four counts of Production of Child Pornography and one count of Possession of Child Pornography. However, a superseding indictment in 2021 added charges of Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, Sex Trafficking of a Child, Coercion and Enticement of a Child to Engage in Sexual Activity, and Obstruction of a Child Sex Trafficking Investigation.
According to court testimony, during an FBI investigation in Texas, Michael Gunn was found to be in possession of election devices with multiple images and videos of child pornography and child exploitation.
Michael Gunn is still awaiting trial in the case. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 15, 2021.
A South Carolina teacher has also pleaded guilty in a related case. Jonathan Eugene Grantham, 45, of Graniteville, S.C. pleaded guilty to Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity.
“Grantham targeted and manipulated a child for his own perverse enjoyment,” said Hacker.
When arrested, Grantham was a teacher at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School in Ridge Spring, S.C.
According to investigators, in July 2019, after contacting the victim online, Grantham crossed state lines from South Carolina to Columbia County, Ga. to have sex with the minor.
“It’s sickening to contemplate the fact that while Jonathan Grantham was serving as a high-school teacher, he was surreptitiously participating in the depraved sex trafficking of a child,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes, who prosecuted the case.
The case remains under investigation.