AIKEN, SC (WJBF) – A former Aiken County teacher has been sentenced to federal prison for more than a decade after admitting to sexually exploiting a minor from Columbia County.

45-year-old Jonathan Eugene Grantham, of Graniteville, SC was sentenced to 140 months in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall ordered Grantham to pay $50,000 in restitution, and to serve the rest of his life on supervised release as well as register as a sex offender after completion of his prison term.

“Our community rightly holds educators in high regard as it entrusts them with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Jonathan Grantham’s field of employment made it even more despicable that he participated in the depraved interstate sex trafficking of a child, and he deservedly will serve substantial prison time for his crimes.”

Grantham was arrested in February 2021 while he was employed at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School. He was later terminated.

FBI agents found out about Grantham after conducting a sex trafficking investigation of 36-year-old Michael Peyton Gunn of Evans Ga. Gunn faces a sentence of up to life in prison after his conviction at trial on nine felony charges including sex trafficking of a child.

In July 2019, Grantham traveled from South Carolina to Columbia County, Ga to engage in sexual activity with the victim who was under 18. Grantham admitted to responding to an advertisement online trafficking the victim. He drove to Evans and picked up the victim then drove them to a South Carolina motel for a sexual act he paid for.

“It is tremendously upsetting that someone in a position entrusted to care for our children was involved in taking advantage of and sexually exploiting a minor,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will spare no resource when it comes to bringing child predators, like Grantham, to justice.”

 The case is being investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.

If you have any information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.