GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A North Carolina man has been sentenced after he admitted to soliciting sex from Virginia boarding school students in exchange for vapes.
Jonathan Avery Shumate, 54, of Warrensville, North Carolina, faced one count of soliciting sex from a minor, to which he pleaded guilty earlier this year.
According to an FBI affidavit filed early in the case, Shumate contacted two male students at Oak Hill Academy, a private baptist boarding school in Grayson County, through Snapchat and Grindr in mid-November 2021.
During that time, he gave the students his personal cellphone number, which agents later confirmed was registered to him. Shumate also communicated with them using a Snapchat account under his own name.
In December 2021, one of the victims disclosed at a child advocacy center that Shumate had solicited sexually explicit images from them in exchange for “vaping supplies.” The two students also paid Shumate for the supplies.
At some point, one of the students sent Shumate sexually explicit photos, and Shumate responded in kind, additionally propositioning him and offering to perform oral sex.
On Dec. 3, school staff found a plastic bag in a drainage ditch near school property after they saw a man in a green jeep drive off. The bag contained vapes and other supplies — as well as a receipt for the items showing they had been purchased using Shumate’s card.
Now, Shumate has been sentenced to a little over 12 and a half years in prison. The prosecution’s victim impact statement and sentencing memorandum were both placed under seal, likely in order to protect the identity of his minor victims, but Shumate submitted letters supporting a lenient sentence for himself.
The letters — from his pastor, family friends and local community leaders — emphasized that Shumate was the primary caretaker for his elderly parents and was an active volunteer at his local church. Still, they acknowledged the severity of his crime, with one writing that there were “no words to justify that.”