The following press release has been issued by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.
Murphy, NC— Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced during the February 29th, 2016 Superior Court setting, Jessica Darlene Russell a 45-year-old Andrews, North Carolina woman entered pleas of guilty to 1 count of Felony Child Abuse by Prostitution and 1 count of First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.
Russell appeared before William H. Coward, the senior resident superior court judge for the 30th Judicial District of North Carolina, who sentenced Russell on count one to an active sentence of 59-131 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Count two, which is to run consecutively at the expiration to count 1, is for a period of 67-141 months. Russell also received a $50,000.00 fine in each case.
The May 2015 investigation began when an officer with the Andrews Police Department responded to a report of a disturbance in the town limits of Andrews, North Carolina. Deputies of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call to assist if needed. During the investigation of the disturbance, information became known that Russell was in possession of a video which depicted a minor engaged in a sexual act.
During the investigation, several search warrants were issued and information and evidence was collected that supported the claims that Russell not only possessed child exploitation material but had created it as well. Additionally, through computer forensics and cellular telephone examination, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was able to identify the victim and recovered information that provided information that not only did Russell create the video of the 7-year-old minor, but transmitted the video by cellphone and emails to an individual in North Georgia where the investigation continues.
Sheriff Palmer said, “My Office continues to work aggressively to ferret out those who exploit our children. I especially want to commend the Andrews Police Department, the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the Cherokee County Department of Social Services and the 30th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the cooperative effort to bring about this conclusion to a very heinous crime. We continue to be thankful for the continued support of all the local, state and federal agencies we partner with to protect our children. These types of investigations are very technical and are very time consuming, but the time we spend is well worth it considering the victims that are involved.”
Sheriff Palmer encourages anyone that has information to report it. To report crime in Cherokee County you can call the anonymous tip line at 828-837-1344 or email a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 911 if you observe a crime in progress.
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