Bland County Man Pleads Guilty to 17 Counts of Production of Child Pornography, Illegal Possession of a Firearm

Plea Agreement Calls for Sentence Between 20-50 Years in Federal Prison

ABINGDON, Va.– A Bland County, Virginia man pleaded guilty yesterday to 17 counts of producing child pornography at his home and illegally possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony offense.

According to court documents, William Dean Blankenship, 42, was a previously convicted felon residing in Bland County, Virginia. 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, law enforcement found a firearm, cellular phone and other electronic devices that belonged to Blankenship. Blankenship’s phone contained over 50 video files of child pornography produced by the defendant which depicted him engaging in sexual intercourse with two minors under the age of 18. Further investigation determined Blankenship routinely coerced and enticed the two minors to engage in sexual activity with Blankenship and with one another after providing the minors with narcotics and other controlled substances.  Blankenship’s abuse began when the minors were approximately 14 and 13 years old.

“Blankenship repeatedly used coercive means to abuse his child victims, and now faces a lengthy prison sentence for these horrific acts,” Acting United States Attorney Bubar stated today. “I am thankful for the hard work of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Virginia State Police, who will continue to investigate and, together with our office, prosecute anyone like Blankenship who seeks to prey on our children.”

“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to have partnered with the Bland County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold Mr. Blankenship accountable for his reprehensible actions,” said Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of Washington D.C. Homeland Security Investigations.  “His sentencing should serve as a reminder to others who victimize children; we will work tirelessly to bring predators to justice.”

Blankenship pleaded guilty yesterday to 17 counts of production of child pornography and one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2021 and faces an agreed upon sentencing range of between 20-50 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Virginia State Police are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Murphy is prosecuting the case.