AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRBL) – One Columbia County man was found guilty on nine felony counts related to child sex trafficking by a federal jury Thursday, Nov. 18.
Michael Gunn, 36, of Evans, Ga., is facing a possible life sentence following a four-day trial. Three of the charges carry a statutory penalty of up to life in prison. At a minimum, Gunn faces 15 years in federal prison.
Gunn was found guilty of the following:
- Conspiracy to Engage in Sex Trafficking of a Minor
- Sex Trafficking of a Child
- Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity
- four counts of Production of Child Pornography
- Possession of Child Pornography
- Obstruction of a Sex-Trafficking Investigation
He is awaiting sentencing while a background investigation is underway by the U.S. Probation Office.
Chris Macrae, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, spoke on the acts carried out by Gunn.
“Michael Gunn committed unspeakable crimes against a vulnerable child and no sentence for him will wipe away the trauma he has caused the victim. However, thanks to the dedicated work from our agents who aggressively pursue these heinous criminals, Gunn will be removed from our streets where he will no longer be able to harm innocent children.”
According to a news release, the minor victim testified in court that they were manipulated to participate in illegal sexual abuse and sexual exploitation from age seven to 13. The acts continued to worsen as they progressed from production of child pornography to participation in commercial sex trafficking. The victim was manipulated into these acts through rewards, fear, threats of harm, and intimidation.
The victim also testified that Gunn profited from the images of the minor and made the victim available for sexual exploitation by other men.
“The child exploitation offenses Gunn committed are absolutely horrific, going far beyond the initial, reprehensible child pornography offenses that alerted the FBI to his activities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “The jurors are holding Michael Gunn accountable for his monstrous crimes, and providing a path to healing for his victim.”
More than 700 images of explicit child pornography picturing one minor victim were discovered in Feb. 2020 when FBI agents were asked to assist in a child pornography case out of Hopkins County, Texas.
Gunn was traced back to the images as digital location information on the photos identified the area as Gunn’s residence in Evans, Ga.
He was questioned in his home and indicted in March of 2020 on multiple charges of production and possession of child pornography.
In March 2021, Gunn’s then-wife, Amanda Gunn (also known as Amanda Howard), 34, of Augusta, Ga., was indicted on charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and obstruction of a child sex trafficking investigation. This added multiple charges to Michael Gunn.
Amanda Gunn pled guilty to sex trafficking conspiracy and has yet to be sentenced.
The investigation into related crimes in the case continues.
Those with 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/.