50-Year sentence for Bland County man who produced child pornography

ABINGDON, Va. – A Bland County, Virginia man was sentenced last week to 50 years in prison for making and producing child pornography at his home and illegally possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony offense.

William Dean Blankenship, 42, was a previously convicted felon residing in Bland County. On February 12, 2021, the Bland County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police executed a state search warrant at Blankenship’s home after receiving information that the defendant had engaged in sexual acts with children and was in possession of child pornography.

During that search, a cellular phone and other electronic devices that belonged to Blankenship were recovered. Blankenship’s phone contained over 50 video files of child pornography made by the defendant that showed him engaging in sexual intercourse with two minors under the age of 18. The investigation revealed that Blankenship routinely coerced and enticed the two minors to engage in sexual activity with Blankenship, and with one another, after he gave  the minors narcotics and other controlled substances.  Blankenship’s abuse began when the minors were approximately 13 and 14 years old.  Law enforcement also located a firearm in the defendant’s home.

“Today’s lengthy sentence shows the commitment of the Department of Justice to protecting children from the type of abuse and coercive exploitation this defendant exhibited over several years,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “My Office will continue to investigate and prosecute all those who prey on our most vulnerable victims.  I am grateful to the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the Virginia State Police for their work on this case.”.

“Now, Mr. Blankenship will begin to pay for the horrific atrocities he committed,” said Ray Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Washington, D.C.  “This sentencing serves as another example to anyone who seeks to victimize our children, that we will work tirelessly to bring them to justice.  HSI was proud to have partnered the Virginia State Police, as well as the Bland County and Giles County Sheriff’s Offices on this case.”

In September 2021, Blankenship pleaded guilty to 17 counts of production of child pornography and one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

The Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the Bland County Sheriff’s Office, the Giles County Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia State Police investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Murphy prosecuted the case.