First 'Grooming' Child Porn Sentence: 40 Years - FindLaw Blotter
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First 'Grooming' Child Porn Sentence: 40 Years

An Alabama man became the first person sentenced under a relatively new federal law against "grooming" minors for sexual exploitation by providing them with child pornography. The law gives harsh penalties for the reportedly common practice in which child molesters lower children's defenses against inappropriate sexual contact.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Jerry Alan Penton, 37, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on a variety of charges relating to child pornography. These included the knowing possession and distribution of child porn over the course of several years.

What made his case special, however, was the punishment he received for distributing some of that child porn to two children, aged 6 and 8. This brought the first conviction under the "grooming" provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

"Grooming" refers to the practice of developing a relationship with a child with the intent of later sexual contact. It can include a variety of actions meant to either develop trust between the potential abuser and the child, or to lower the child's defenses against abuse.

The new federal law (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2252A(a)(6)), attempts to combat grooming. It sets heightened prison terms for those who knowingly provide or offer child pornography to a minor with the purpose of inducing or persuading the minor to participate in any illegal activity.

Conviction under the grooming statute draws a sentence of 5 to 20 years. If the offender has a prior sexual abuse or child pornography conviction, a grooming conviction will get them 15 to 40 years.

Penton received 20 years on his grooming conviction, plus another 20 for his distribution and possession of child pornography.