On February 25th of this year, the Lee County Circuit Court formally sentenced retired Lee County Special Education teacher Robert Edward Widener Jr. of Ben Hur to serve 20 years in the Virginia State Penitentiary on 20 counts of soliciting child pornography and 20 counts of using an electronic device to solicit child pornography. The case was previously tried before a jury in April of last year, with the jury recommending the 20 year sentence after finding Mr. Widener guilty on all counts. The jury recommended six months on each count with the total time of 20 years.
Lee County Commonwealth's Attorney, H. Fuller Cridlin stated the following:
"My office prosecuted this case aggressively, as we do with all cases involving the exploitation of children. From the outset of this case, we prepared for a jury trial and pushed for the maximum punishment possible. Although my office pushed for the maximum sentence at trial we respect the jury's recommendation of 20 years, and we are pleased that the Court formally accepted the jury's recommendation today.
I hope that this case sends a message to the predators in our community that the citizens of Lee County will not tolerate child exploitation on any level. My office will continue aggressively prosecuting these cases to ensure that our children are protected.
Mr. Widener's case is an example of how our justice system is supposed to work, no one is above the law, regardless of his or her status in the community. A jury decided the case based solely on the evidence presented during the trial. Our mission in every case is to pursue truth and justice. We believe that is what was accomplished here."