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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Former Church Staff Member Sentenced to 50 years in Prison for Child Sexual Exploitation and Possessing Child Pornography

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Shelby County man and former church staff member to 50 years in prison for sexually abusing a seven-year-old child and possessing child pornography in 2013, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced JASON MICHAEL HANKINS, 35, to 30 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a child, plus 20 more years for possessing child pornography. The judge also ordered Hankins to remain on supervised release for the rest of his life after completing his prison sentence. Hankins pleaded guilty to the charges in January.

Hankins had worked at Shades Crest Baptist Church in Hoover as part of the Family Life Center staff, assisting in the planning and coordinating of recreational activities. Hankins found his young victim by seeking out a single mother on a Christian dating website.

The government, in its sentencing memorandum to the court, recommended a 50-year prison sentence in the case. Such a sentence is reasonable, the government argued, because Hankins “targeted the victim, engaged in a repeated pattern, lasting the entire time he had access to the child, of sexual exploitation of a very young child …” Not only did Hankins sexually abuse the child, but he used his cell phone to memorialize the child’s nightmare, the government said.

The seven-year-old child was not Hankins’ only victim, as he possessed more than 100 videos and more than 1,000 images of child pornography, including a video of a man raping a toddler, according to the sentencing memorandum.

The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Hutzell prosecuted.

Updated August 30, 2016