Florence Couple Sentenced to Hundreds of Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography
BIRMINGHAM—A federal judge today sentenced a Florence couple to hundreds of years in prison for exploiting and sexually abusing a minor child in their custody to produce images of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced PATRICIA ALLANA AYERS, 34, to 1,590 years in prison and her husband, MATTHEW DAVID AYERS, 42, to 750 years in prison. The government had requested those sentences, the maximums possible.
The couple pleaded guilty in June to multiple charges related to 53 pornographic images of the child produced between the summer of 2010 and January 2013, when the child was six to nine years old. The images included photographs of the adults engaged in sex acts with the child. Patricia Ayers pleaded guilty to 53 counts of producing child pornography, and Matthew Ayers pleaded guilty to 25 counts of production.
“I have been on the bench since 1998, and this is the worst case I have personally dealt with, including murders,” Judge Coogler told the defendants. “You robbed this child of her childhood and her soul, and a maximum sentence is the only sentence appropriate.”
“The stern sentences imposed on this couple today reflect the abhorrent nature of their abuse and exploitation of a young child in their care,” Vance said. “Children must be protected from sexual exploitation, and we remain committed to prosecuting child pornography cases. I thank the FBI for its diligent work on this disturbing case,” she said.
“The crimes the Ayers have admitted to are disturbing, inexcusable and sickening,” Schwein said. “The Internet has a depraved and dark side which the Ayers lived in, bringing a child for whom they were responsible with them. I am proud of the work of the FBI on this case, and I applaud the sentences handed down today, as the Ayers will spend the rest of their natural lives behind prison bars,” he said.
In their plea agreements with the government, both Ayers acknowledged that they took photographs of the child engaged in lewd and lascivious poses and that they each engaged in sexual acts with the child that the other adult photographed. Patricia Ayers sent pornographic images of the child by e-mail to a man in Texas and told him in e-mail messages that she would bring the child to Texas so that he could have sexual relations with the child, according to the plea agreements.
Following today’s hearing, the couple was returned to custody in Lauderdale County where they face state child pornography, rape and sexual abuse charges.
Anyone with information about the potential sexual exploitation of children should report it to law enforcement immediately. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates the Cyber Tip Line in partnership with the FBI and other federal authorities. If you have information, call the tip line at 1-800-THE-LOST.
The FBI investigated this case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Stuart Burrell prosecuted.