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Pastor Offers Eyebrow-Raising Explanation For Alleged Child Porn On His Computer

29/03/2017 9:42 AM AEDT | Updated 29/03/2017 9:42 AM AEDT
Hurst Texas Police Department
James Rankin is accused of possessing child pornography.

A Texas pastor is claiming that child pornography images allegedly found on his computer were “to remind himself of what other people like to look at,” according to an affidavit for a search warrant.

Local police disagree.

“That explanation did not really pan out for us,” police Sgt. Lonnie Brazzel told The Huffington Post.

Authorities on Friday seized computers, digital storage devices and cameras belonging to 78-year-old James Rankin, of Hurst, Texas.

Rankin was arrested after employees at a Best Buy alerted police to suspected child pornography allegedly found Thursday on an Apple iMac that Hurst brought in for repair. When investigators examined the computer, they allegedly found about 50 images of nude children, some of which they described as having a “‘home-made’ quality.”

Rankin told police he’d discovered the images seven or eight years ago “and saved these images because he had researched a possible lesson involving Cupid, love, and human trafficking,” according to the search affidavit.

However, authorities say some of the images have dates as recent as February associated with them.

“This is now a matter of whether this a downloaded collection or photos he’s taken,” Brazzel said.

A forensic analysis of the images is pending.

At the time of his arrest, Rankin told police he was an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst. A now-defunct page on the church’s website states that Rankin is a married father of two who served in churches in Tennessee, Fort Worth and Amarillo. He also served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.

The church did not respond to a request for comment.

Rankin also allegedly said the photos served as a reminder of “how bad human trafficking is.” However, it appears his concern didn’t motivate him to take any further action. Court documents do not indicate that Rankin ever notified authorities or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of the existence of the alleged child porn images, or the website from which he allegedly downloaded them.

Rankin, who faces a charge of possession of child pornography, is jailed in lieu of $5,000 bond. The forensic analysis of the alleged evidence is expected to take five to six weeks, Brazzel said.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter. 

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