On Thursday, January 12, 2023 the following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of South Carolina.
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Jonathan McKinney Rion, 60, of Woodruff, SC, and Charlotte, NC, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to enticement of a minor for sexual activity and false statements to the FBI, to be followed by a lifetime of supervision and registration as a sex offender.
In March 2021, according to evidence presented in Court, 58-year-old Rion enticed a minor boy into sexual conduct. He met the victim through an online social media application. Through an internet-based cell phone application, Rion arranged to travel from Charlotte, NC, to the Columbia, SC, area to pick the minor up and to take him back to Charlotte. In North Carolina, he sexually abused the minor and provided him with money and gifts.
In April 2021, Rion then spoke with who he was told was a 14-year-old minor two school grades younger than his previous victim. In truth, Rion was speaking to an undercover FBI agent. Rion attempted to recruit the purported 14-year-old to travel to his residence in North Carolina or to a hotel in South Carolina, where Rion intended to give the minor gifts or money in exchange for sex.
Evidence also indicated Rion had exploited as many as 6 minor victims between 2018 and 2021, many of whom he met online. Rion provided money, gifts, a place to stay, and other things of value; in exchange, he sexually abused the victims. He also obtained explicit photos and videos of the minor victims, and some victims reported non-consensual sexual contact.
When approached by the FBI, Rion falsely denied engaging in sexual contact with one victim, and he falsely claimed that he did not engage in any sexual conversations with minors. Evidence also indicated Rion had made false claims to a state court related to one victim.
United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Rion to 14 years in federal prison, to be followed by a lifetime of court-ordered supervision, and Rion will have to register as a sex offender after release. The Court also ordered restitution be paid to one victim. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Lexington (SC) Police Department, with assistance from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Elliott B. Daniels prosecuted the case.