TBI charges suspect with aggravated statutory rape

Staff Reports • Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 5:41 PM

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents anticipate the arrival of James Abernathy, 41, of Fort Myers, Fla., who awaits extradition on aggravated statutory rape and solicitation of a minor charges.

In June 2012, at the request of District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones, special agents with the TBI Technical Services Unit began an investigation after a tip from a social media outlet indicated there was an inappropriate relationship between a minor and a man later identified as Abernathy.

More than a year later in September 2013, Abernathy was indicted by a Fentress County grand jury on two counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of solicitation of a minor. During a TBI investigation, it was discovered Abernathy had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old victim on two occasions. Abernathy was 38 years old at the time of the offenses. After the investigation, it was determined Abernathy lived in Florida.

On Tuesday, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Task Force, Abernathy was found and apprehended without incident. He is currently in the Lee County Jail in southern Florida awaiting extradition to Tennessee.

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