Former Graniteville trainer to stay in custody on youngster intercourse cost

Sandy Hodson

| Augusta Chronicle

A Graniteville school teacher arrested last week on charges of bringing a minor into prostitution across state lines will remain in jail pending a possible indictment and trial in federal court.

U.S. Judge Brian K. Epps ruled Thursday that there was a likely reason to believe that 45-year-old Jonathan E. Grantham was involved in the crime and that he posed a potential threat to the community.

Grantham was arrested Friday for transporting a minor with the intention of engaging in sexual activity. This crime is punished with 10 years imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system.

FBI special agent Tripp Godbee testified Thursday that federal agents in Dallas first contacted him in January 2020 about a child pornography investigation that revealed a picture of a child from the Augusta area. Michael P. Gunn was identified as the source and his home was raided in February 2020, Godbee testified. Gunn is charged with producing child pornography and possession.

Evidence led agents to Grantham, who communicated with the victim through a Craigslist ad in June and July 2019, Godbee said. The victim was 13 years old when she had sexual encounters with Grantham for money, the agent testified. He was able to locate the South Carolina hotel that Grantham brought her to once after picking her up from her Georgia home, Godbee said.

The girl identified Grantham from a photographic record, the agent said. Grantham, whom the girl said she was 15 years old in their first email exchange, claimed he believed the girl was 18, Godbee testified.

When asked if the girl looked 18 years old at least six months after Grantham’s alleged contact with him, Godbee replied “absolutely not”. Grantham had been in his teens for several years during his teaching career, Godbee testified.

Defense attorney Jacque Hawk asked Epps to consider a loan, saying no evidence was found that the married father of three sought children for sexual activity

Epps denied the bond. U.S. Assistant Attorney Tara Lyons said her office would file charges next month.

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