Jury finds Carter County man guilty of child exploitation

John Thompson • Oct 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A Carter County jury found Leslie Dean Ritchie, 41, guilty on two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor following a trial in Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The jury assessed the maximum $25,000 fine on each of the two counts, for a total fine of $50,000. Judge Robert Cupp set sentencing for Ritchie on Dec. 7.

Ritchie had previously been classified as a nonviolent sex offender and was listed in the sex offender registry. He had been placed on the registry after a guilty plea in Carter County Criminal Court in 1996 on a charge of statutory rape. Judge Arden Hill sentenced Ritchie to a year in jail on that charge.

On the latest charges, Ritchie was accused of hiring a 12-year-old girl to model for him in her underwear. He had been living in the same residence with the girl and her mother at the time. Ritchie was arrested on the charges in January, after he had been indicted by a Carter County grand jury Jan. 17 on those charges and on a count of violation of the sex offender registry. That charge will be considered during the sentencing hearing.

Lt. Randy Bowers of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department was the lead investigator on the case.

“We provide (sex offenders on the registry list) with a packet of what they can and cannot do,” Bowers said out of court. He said those on the registry are also given verbal instructions during the first time they report in to their local law enforcement office. One thing that is clearly emphasized, Bowers said, is that Ritchie could not live in a household with children.

Ritchie had been out on $50,000 bond. Following the jury’s verdict, Cupp revoked the bond.

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