A former Aiken County, S.C., teacher has been sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison after admitting to sexually exploiting a Columbia County minor.

Jonathan Eugene Grantham, 45, of Graniteville, S.C., was sentenced to 140 months in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Grantham to pay $50,000 in restitution, and to serve the rest of his life on supervised release and register as a sex offender after completion of his prison term.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“Our community rightly holds educators in high regard as it entrusts them with the care of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Jonathan Grantham’s field of employment made it even more despicable that he participated in the depraved interstate sex trafficking of a child, and he deservedly will serve substantial prison time for his crimes.”

At the time of his arrest in February 2021, Grantham was employed as a teacher at Ridge Spring-Monetta High School in Ridge Spring, S.C. He later was terminated.

Grantham came to the attention of the FBI while agents were conducting the sex trafficking investigation of Michael Peyton Gunn, 36, of Evans, who faces a sentence of up to life in prison after his conviction at trial on nine felony charges including sex trafficking of a child.

Agents discovered that Grantham, in July 2019, traveled from South Carolina to Columbia County to engage in sexual activity with a victim who was under age 18. Grantham admitted responding to an online advertisement trafficking the minor victim, then traveling from South Carolina to Evans to transport the victim to a South Carolina motel for a sexual act in return for payment.

The investigation into related crimes in the case continues.

“It is tremendously upsetting that someone in a position entrusted to care for our children was involved in taking advantage of and sexually exploiting a minor,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will spare no resource when it comes to bringing child predators, like Grantham, to justice.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.

Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678.