A Lynchburg man was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday after being convicted of possessing child pornography.

Jeremy Cole Whorley, 30, was charged with 10 counts of possessing child porn in July following an investigation by the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Bennett has said investigators traced suspected child porn back to an IP address that led them to Whorley. She said more than 300 images of suspected child porn were found on his computer, and further investigation revealed he had deleted more than 1,100 suspect images.

Some of those images, Bennett said, depicted children estimated to be as young as 6 years old in sexual situations.

Whorley, who worked as an accountant at Liberty University at the time of his arrest, entered an Alford plea to his charges in late October. An Alford plea doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there’s enough evidence for a conviction. Having made $15,000 bond, he was taken back into custody after his hearing Wednesday afternoon to serve his sentence.

Since he was released, Charity Whorley said from the witness stand Wednesday her husband has expressed remorse and gone to two sessions with a specialized licensed counselor. She added he hasn’t been accessing the internet — a condition of his bond — and the two have discussed the issue multiple times.

Referencing a pre-sentence report, Bennett acknowledged Jeremy Whorley has little risk of recidivism but said he’s reported a “compulsive, overwhelming urge” to view child porn. She asked for a five-year sentence and defense attorney Gary Straw asked for a shorter sentence.

Straw pointed out his client had no criminal history, never touched a child and was gainfully employed when he was arrested. Straw said Whorley ceased to be employed by LU months before he entered a plea in October.

He also said close to a dozen loved ones who came to Lynchburg Circuit Court were there to show support for his client. While "we criminalize [child porn] for obvious reasons and it should be criminalized," Straw added it's a psychological abnormality.”

When given the chance to speak at Wednesday’s hearing, Whorley said he accepts responsibility for his actions and knows viewing child porn isn’t a victimless crime. He said he’d continue to seek help and has plenty of support from his family.

Judge F. Patrick Yeatts decided to sentence him to four years of active time, after which he’ll be on supervised probation for two years, will need to be on good behavior for 25 years and will need to register as a sex offender. In addition, he was prohibited from consuming alcohol, having unsupervised contact with minors and viewing any pornography. He won’t be able to use the internet except as approved by probation officers.

Yeatts remarked that the number of child porn cases prosecuted is “a drop in the ocean” of how many people view that material. He said he’s not sure either the judicial system or medical professionals will ever fully grasp what compels people to look at child porn and added many have suggested that it’s a disease, in part.

“Despite that, it is a crime,” he said. “It is a serious crime.”

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Reporter

Rachel Mahoney covers courts for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5554.

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