Former church staff member given 50 years for sexual abuse of a child

Published 3:09 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

From Staff Reports

HOOVER – A federal judge on Aug. 30 sentenced a Shelby County man and former church staff member to 50 years in prison for sexually abusing a 7-year-old child and possessing child pornography in 2013, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton announced in a press release.



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 7-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.

According to his indictments, which were returned during a January 2014 Shelby County grand jury session, Hankins allegedly “engaged in sexual intercourse” with a female victim younger than 12, “penetrated (the victim) with an inanimate object” and “willfully maltreated” the victim while the victim was in his care between July 2013 and November 2013.

He also allegedly produced pornography involving a minor, distributed pornography to a minor, engaged in “deviate sexual intercourse” and engaged in sexual contact with a victim younger than 12 between January 2013 and December 2013.

Hankins was arrested at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Dec. 13, 2013, after a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a Westover residence to take a report of sexual abuse of a minor child. Sheriff’s investigators said in a previous report that there was a pre-existing family relationship between the victim and Hankins.

Hankins posted bond and was released from the Shelby County Jail before the U.S. Marshal’s Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Hankins again at his residence on Dec. 18, 2014.