Northeast Tarrant

Pastor kept child porn to research Cupid, love, trafficking, affidavit says

The Hurst associate pastor told police he kept child pornography to “remind himself of what other people like to look at.”
The Hurst associate pastor told police he kept child pornography to “remind himself of what other people like to look at.” Star-Telegram archives

An associate pastor told police he kept child pornography on his computer “to remind himself of what other people like to look at,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

James Rankin, 78, also saved about 50 images of children engaging in pornography as part of research for “a possible lesson involving Cupid, love and human trafficking seven to eight years ago,” the search affidavit stated.

But police noted that dates associated with some of the images were as recent as February, according to the affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram on Monday.

Police say they believe the images appeared to be of “home-made”quality, according to the affidavit.

Rankin was arrested Thursday after employees at Best Buy called police to report they had found what they believed was child pornography on a computer brought in for repair by the associate pastor.

Rankin told police he was an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst. A woman who answered the telephone at the church Monday declined to comment on Rankins’ status at the church.

Police began investigating Thursday after receiving the tip. They called Rankin and asked him to come to Best Buy and he did.

Rankin gave police permission to look through computer files and an officer observed images of nude children between the ages of 8 and 10 on an Apple iMac, according to the affidavit.

Asked why he kept the images, Rankin said he wanted to see how bad human trafficking was, the affidavit stated.

Church officials told police Rankin did not use or have access to a church computer, but brought his own laptop instead. A church official said Rankin never left his computer at the church, according to the affidavit.

Police seized Rankin’s computers, computer storage devices and digital cameras from the Hurst home where he lives with his wife, the affidavit stated.

Rankin faces a charge of possession of child pornography, police said.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

  Comments