HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Two North Alabama defendants were sentenced last week on child sexual exploitation charges, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Travis Picard.
U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke sentenced two defendants in separate and unrelated cases.
“The sexual abuse and commercial exploitation of children is among the most serious crimes prosecuted by my office,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “The creation and distribution of digital images of child sexual abuse perpetuates a criminal industry that is incredibly destructive to both the victims and consumers of this material. The prosecution of these defendants is part of the ongoing commitment of my office, and that of our federal, state, and local partners, to identify and prosecute child predators. I am grateful for the work of all involved in bringing these two defendants to justice.”
“Finding and arresting predators involved in victimizing and exploiting children is one of our highest priorities,” said Acting Special Agent in charge Travis Pickard who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “These sentences are a testament to HSI’s and its law enforcement partner’s commitment to protecting our most vulnerable population from exploitation as well as holding those violators accountable.”
Jeremy Michael Lee Powell, 25, of Athens, was sentenced to 600 months in prison followed by lifetime of supervised release. In April 2023, Powell pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography. According to court documents, Powell befriended the minor children’s mother and engaged in sexual acts with her seven- and eight-year-old children. Powell told the children to keep it a secret. Powell knew the mother needed childcare assistance, so he conveniently offered to assist with the children while the mother worked. Powell also took full advantage of the fact that the children’s father was not in contact with them and swayed the children into calling him “da-da.” Law enforcement discovered 47 sexually explicit images involving the children on Powell’s cell phone.
Becky Lynn Burroughs, 46, of Decatur was sentenced to 260 months in prison followed by lifetime of supervised release. Burroughs pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography on April 27, 2023. According to the plea agreement, Florida investigators identified an account distributing child pornography in an internet chatroom. Investigation revealed that the account belonged to Burroughs. Between March 2021 and September 2021, Burroughs uploaded at least 11 videos, as well as numerous images, of child pornography to the internet. On September 1, 2021, a search warrant was obtained for Burrough’s residence in Decatur, Alabama, and agents seized Burrough’s phone. A forensic review of the cell phone located 10 child sex abuse images and videos.
HSI - Birmingham investigated the Jeremy Powell case, along with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Leann White, Daniel McBrayer, and William McComb prosecuted Powell.
HSI – Birmingham investigated the Becky Burroughs case, along with HSI – Tallahassee, the Leon County, Florida Sheriff’s Office, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney John M. Hundscheid prosecuted Burroughs.
These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.