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Barnwell man pleads guilty in Lexington County for producing child pornography

Lexington, SC - Attorney General Alan Wilson announced late Thursday that a Barnwell County man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for producing child pornography. The case was based on his recording video and taking still photos while he sexually abused a young girl. Joshua Isiah Worthy did not challenge a change of venue from Barnwell County to Lexington County and pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, First Degree. The presiding judge was the Honorable Frank R. Addy.

“All cases of child sexual abuse and child pornography are repulsive,” Attorney General Wilson said. “But this one is even more so because it involved a man already on probation who abused a young girl and recorded it. This conviction was achieved by outstanding police work by all the agencies involved, proving that Worthy was the man in the video and finding his victim. This case is also one of the best examples of the work our Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is doing. Four different agencies worked together and took a case that appeared to be child pornography possession but instead discovered a young victim that no one would have known was a victim otherwise.”

In December 2018, the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department received a call about a cell phone containing child pornography that was left in a motel room in Leesville. They contacted the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office and the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. A witness told detectives that the phone belonged to Joshua Isiah Worthy. Since Worthy was on probation at the time and was wearing a GPS ankle monitor, the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services was able to place him at the motel with the location data from the GPS monitor.

A search warrant executed on the phone revealed two videos of a young girl being sexually abused by an adult male. It also had four still photos of her being sexually exploited. In the videos and photos, the man’s face is not shown. Detectives got arrest warrants for Worthy for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Third Degree (possession) and arrested him on December 21, 2018. During an interview with detectives, Worthy confessed to possessing the phone.

After more closely examining the videos, detectives realized that tattoos on the arms of the man in the videos looked like tattoos that Worthy has. After getting more search warrants, detectives determined the man in the videos was Worthy and that a live child victim was possibly somewhere in South Carolina.

Using still photos of the child’s face, detectives were able to find a potential victim. The victim was interviewed, and she said she had been sexually abused by Worthy on more than one occasion.

Worthy was sentenced to a negotiated 20 years in prison.

Worthy was represented by Wallis Alves with the Second Circuit Public Defender’s Office and Jason Chehoski with the Eleventh Circuit Public Defender’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Collier.

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