Sunday, June 20, 2010

Former church volunteer gets 50 years for raping boys

Former church volunteer gets 50 years for raping boys
By J.J. Stambaugh
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:10 p.m.
Randall Thomas Hollifield
Not even the sacred halls of New Beverly Baptist Church afforded protection to the young boys who fell victim to Randall T. Hollifield, a 46-year-old Powell man who was sentenced to spend 50 years in prison Friday for molesting three children.

Hollifield, who was a youth volunteer at the Knoxville church, used his position to meet boys and even videotaped one of them performing sexual acts in the house of worship's gymnasium and fellowship hall, authorities said during a hearing in Knox County Criminal Court.

"We've learned that men who are so Godly and good are exactly the ones you can't trust," said the mother of one victim as she confronted her son's rapist in court. "You were the one positive male role model he had in his life. ... I hope one day I can forgive you, but I don't know when that might be."

Hollifield pleaded guilty to a slew of charges contained in a presentment unveiled Friday including child rape, attempted aggravated sexual battery, and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee sentenced him to 50 years in prison with no chance of parole, which means Hollifield will be 96 years old before he is eligible for release.

Assistant District Attorney General Steve Sword said the boys, one of whom was related to Hollifield by marriage, were between the ages of 10 and 12 when the sexual assaults began in 2007.

"There were too many times to count," Sword said.

Hollifield also took hundreds of pornographic photographs of his victims and made a large number of videos recording the abuse before he was arrested in mid-2009, Sword said. Some of the pornographic materials were swapped with other pedophiles via the Internet, including a middle school coach in Georgia who was later arrested on child porn charges by the FBI.

"These images are being passed around the world," Sword said.

Knox County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jeannette Harris and Lt. Danny Spangler led the probe into the abuse, Sword said. Hollifield at first denied the allegations but confessed after he was confronted with pornographic images retrieved from his video equipment by Spangler.

The boys didn't appear in court Friday, but the parents of two victims lashed out at Hollifield as he sat at the defense table with his head bowed.

One mother described Hollifield as "Satan's servant" and told him that her son "is more of a man than you could ever be."

"He is nothing better than an animal," she said of Hollifield.

One boy's father told Hollifield that he deserved to be put to death for his crimes, but the law doesn't allow the death penalty for child molestation.

When asked if he had anything to say, Hollifield said simply, "I'm sorry."

Sword said after the hearing that Hollifield had expressed remorse for his actions and had said he was pleading guilty in part to spare the boys from the trauma of having to testify.

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