published Friday, November 30th, 2012

Child porn operation spanned 2 decades

Jimmy Walter Rollins
Jimmy Walter Rollins
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
OTHER VICTIMS SOUGHT

Anyone who was a victim or has information about other possible victims is asked to call Chief Dennis Young or Detective Chris Layne at the Winchester Police Department at 931-967-3840.

Winchester, Tenn., police Detective Chris Layne, searching through more than 311,000 child pornography images, was stunned by what he saw: His own high school classmates were among the victims.

Jimmy Walter Rollins was arraigned Thursday in federal court in Chattanooga on indictments charging him with eight counts of child pornography production.

Authorities said the photos and videos seized involved at least 15 area children and captured abuse that occurred over 20 years.

Rollins, 44, of 78 Burnt Orchard Lane in Palmer, Tenn., now is in federal custody, Winchester police Chief Dennis Young said. The pornographic images and videos were seized from his home, and he was arrested before dawn on Thursday.

Rollins will remain in federal custody pending a bond hearing set for 10 a.m. EST Monday in federal court in Chattanooga, officials said.

If convicted, Rollins faces up to 25 years in prison on each of the eight counts, authorities said.

Young said the investigation began in May under Layne, a member of the regional Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which serves an 11-county area.

As the investigation developed, agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI became involved.

Layne on Thursday said he identified 15 boys from Grundy, Franklin, Marion and surrounding counties who were "sexually exploited" by Rollins over the past two decades.

Rollins, who runs a business that provides truck transport escort cars, had been arrested on May 18 and charged under Tennessee law with two counts of aggravated statutory rape in an investigation not directly related to the federal charges, Layne said. That case is pending in state court but set the stage for a federal investigation.

In a search of Rollins' home during the federal probe, still images were found on computer hard drives, CDs and other storage devices, Layne said.

The longtime area resident said that when he started looking over the images, he was stunned to see among the victims men he knew from high school.

"It was kind of disturbing," the detective said. "I went to high school with some of these guys that he had images of. These guys are my age now. I'm 40 years old. They've moved on with their lives."

The images were of the victims as teens, Layne said.

Rollins lived in Palmer with his grandmother, who is now in her 90s and had raised him since he was 3 years old, Layne said. He said the house was ordinary in every way except for Rollins' quarters.

"He had it hid from his grandmother and kept it hid in his room," Layne said. "He kept it secret from everybody."

In what amounted to a reverse sting online, Layne, TBI agent Larry Davis and FBI agent Scott Barker were able to get Rollins to provide pornographic material over the Internet, leading to a federal search at the home for evidence, Young said.

Once the seized materials were in hand, investigators used the Winchester Police Department's computer forensics lab to retrieve data from the computers and storage devices, the chief said.

Layne is haunted by thoughts of how far-reaching the effects of abuse might be.

"Some of these guys, I knew some of them after they got out of high school. Most of them, they've got a pretty good life, but some of them have gone on to being in prison themselves," he said.

"I wonder if they had never met Jimmy Rollins, how would their lives have ended up," Layne said.

The case will become increasingly awkward for Layne, since federal law requires authorities to contact known child porn victims, the detective said.

He hopes the investigation and arrest help the victims put the past behind them.

"It's definitely going to be awkward," he said of the conversations to come. "It'll be hard for them, definitely."

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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