CENTREVILLE — A Stevensville man will serve 18 years in prison for distribution and possession of child pornography.
Queen Anne’s County Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches prosecuted the case and was able to obtain a guilty plea. Jody R. Whittington, 52, pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution of child pornography and 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
Cuches asked the court to incarcerate Whittington or a lengthy period of time due to the extreme nature of the offense, the ages of the victims and the heinous nature of the conduct. He further asked the court to imprison Whittington for a substantial period to send a message that this conduct will not be tolerated in this community and will be met with a strong response.
On July 9, Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Ross sentenced Whittington to 45 years in the Division of Corrections, with 18 years to serve and 27 suspended. Upon his release, Whittington will have five years of supervised probation, during which he will not be allowed to have contact with anyone under age 16 and will not be allowed to use or possess a computer. Whittington will will be required to register as a Tier I sex offender. Ross also fined him $32,500.
The charges stemmed from investigation that began in December 2018 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted Maryland State Police with a cyber tip generated by Google Inc. for a Gmail account that involved an image of child pornography being uploaded to a Google account. Tfc. Zachary Sarver of the Criminal Investigation Division obtained a warrant for the account and subscriber information, plus the contents of the account.
Through the email records investigators were able to identify the owner of the email as Whittington, a phone number, and 3 IP addresses. All of the IP addresses were investigated and revealed an address on Stafford Road in Bay City. The phone number also belonged to Whittington. And Motor Vehicle Administration records listed Whittington’s residence as being the Stafford Road address.
A review of the email records revealed several communications and email conversations where Whittington traded images of child pornography with an unknown subject, police said.
The Maryland STATE (Special Tactical Assault Team Element) team served a warrant Jan. 18, 2019, at the Stafford Road address. Two people were inside — Whittington and his mother. Investigators located multiple electronic devices in Whittington’s bedroom, of which he claimed ownership.
Cpl. Joshua Brooks of the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit forensically examined several of the devices on scene, including a Samsung Galaxy S9 cell phone. Numerous images of child pornography were located on the phone, Cuches said.
The remaining items were seized and forensically examined by Special Agent Mark Joiner of the Department of Homeland Security. Joiner’s examination also revealed numerous child pornography images on those devices, Cuches said.
Sarver interviewed Whittington on scene in his home when the warrant was served. After being advised of his Miranda rights, Whittington admitted to owning the electronic devices, and further admitted to trading child pornography through his email account, Cuches said.
Whittington confessed again, giving more details, when interviewed by Sgt. Mark Donisi at the MSP Centreville Barracks, Cuches said.
Whittington was originally charged with five counts of distributing child pornography and 21 counts of possessing child pornography.
Cuches thanked the investigators involved in the case. He said the diligent efforts Sarver, Brooks, Joiner and Donisi, specifically, led to the successful prosecution of Whittington, and the protection of the citizens of Queen Anne’s County.
Editor Angela Price contributed to this report.