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Charlottesville-based bodybuilding coach indicted on child exploitation charges

A prominent bodybuilding coach based in Charlottesville has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly enticing minors to send him videos of themselves performing sex acts.

Elliot Atwell has built a following over the years as a trainer to male bodybuilders and fitness models, often working virtually with clients across the country and becoming something of a “godfather of the teen aesthetic,” as one online commenter put it.

His clients have developed strong social media followings themselves and model for high-profile fitness brands.

In a May 24 indictment unsealed Tuesday, the 33-year-old Atwell has been charged with four counts of the sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of enticing a minor for the purposing of engaging in sexual activity and one count of possessing child pornography.

“Between December 2013 and April 2020, Atwell enticed at least six minors to record themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct and then send the recordings to him,” according to a Tuesday statement from U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh of the Western District of Virginia and FBI special agent Stanley M. Meador.

It is not the first time Atwell has been accused of soliciting sexually explicit material from minors, many of them clients.

For years, self-identified clients of Atwell’s have taken to social media to complain about his predatory behavior. Several screenshots of alleged conversations between Atwell and his clients appear to show Atwell encouraging the young men to send him sexually explicit videos and photos of themselves.

And several of those clients have had those images and videos leak online.

It’s not the first time Atwell has faced federal charges.

Atwell was arrested in 2020 and charged with sending a 16-year-old in New Jersey “male enhancement pills,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.

“In March 2020, a 16-year-old juvenile living in New Jersey told investigators that Atwell sent him a package containing ‘Viagra’ in the mail,” the statement reads. “Atwell told the juvenile the medication he was sending would cause him to have erections that would last for hours and would allow him to have sex ‘like a porn star.’”

That statement also detailed how Atwell allegedly developed online and in-person relationships with multiple young men.

The investigation into Atwell remains ongoing, according to the Department of Justice’s Tuesday announcement. The FBI is handling the case.

Any individuals who believe they or someone they know may have been victimized by Atwell is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Smith and trial attorney Jessica Urban of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section are prosecuting the case.


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