Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 9, 2014

Mercer man gets eight-year sentence on child porn charge

BLUEFIELD — A Mercer County man was sentenced Tuesday to eight years and a month in prison on a federal child pornography charge, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.

Johnny Richard Rowe, 61, of Bluewell previously pleaded guilty in January to possessing child pornography, Goodwin said. Rowe was sentenced on the charge Tuesday by Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.

Goodwin said an investigation conducted by the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found that Rowe possessed 728 images and 14 videos of child pornography. Goodwin said the images depict prepubescent minors and minors engaged in sexual acts.

Goodwin said the pornography was discovered on Rowe’s computer and on a flash drive located at his residence in Bluewell.

The investigation also revealed that Rowe received and shared child pornography by using a file sharing network that allows users to download files from other people’s computers around the world.    

“The exploitation of innocent children is a heinous crime,” Goodwin said in a prepared statement. “Child pornography has a highly destructive impact on the most vulnerable segment of society and my office will work diligently to ensure that criminals like Mr. Rowe are prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

The West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Johnston handled the prosecution.

The case was prosecuted as part of Goodwin’s ongoing initiative to combat sexual exploitation and abuse in the Southern District of West Virginia.

Rowe was arrested June 19, 2013, when Cpl. S.A. Sommers, a member of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and an investigator with the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force executed a search warrant in Bluewell, according to earlier reports by the Daily Telegraph. Sommers was assisted by Sheriff Don Meadows, other sheriff’s deputies and ICAC investigators with the West Virginia State Police.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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