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Update: Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Pastor James Rankin Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

pastor james rankin

In 2017, James Rankin, a pastor associated with Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas was charged with the possession of child pornography. The Star-Telegram reported at the time:

A Hurst associate pastor faces a child pornography charge after he took his computer to a Best Buy store, according to a Hurst Police Department news release.

Store employees called police about 8:40 p.m. Thursday after finding what appeared to be child pornography on a customer’s computer, according to the news release. After investigating, police arrested and charged the owner of the computer, 78-year-old James Rankin, with possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony. Bond was set at $5,000.

The news release said Rankin is an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Hurst, which lists him as a staff member on its website.

According to Rankin’s bio on the Bellevue Baptist website:

James was a retired pastor before being called to his present ministry. He served churches in Tennessee, Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1980. He has degrees in Bible, Theology, Counseling, Church Administration and Communication.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2012. They have two children and two grandchildren. They presently live in Hurst.

James is a lifelong ferroequinologist (model railroader).

In 2018, Rankin pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. Three additional counts were dropped as part of a plea agreement. Rankins was given eight years probation and ordered to post the following sign on his home:

rankin sex offender sign

The Dallas Morning News reported:

A former Hurst pastor who reportedly told police he kept child porn on his computer to “remind himself of what other people like to look at” has been sentenced to eight years of deferred-adjudication probation.

James Holcomb Rankin, 79, pleaded guilty last week to one count of possession of child pornography. Three additional counts were dropped as part of a plea agreement, court records show.

By Saturday, he must place a sign on his home, no smaller than 16 inches tall by 32 inches wide, with 2½-inch letters declaring “A PERSON ON PROBATION FOR A CHILD SEX OFFENSE LIVES HERE.”

Rankin was an associate pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church on West Pipeline Road at the time of his arrest, but he no longer works there.

According to an arrest-warrant affidavit, police were called to the Best Buy on Northeast Mall Boulevard in March 2017 after employees found images of child porn on his computer.

Rankin later told police that he kept several dozen such images on his computer to “remind himself of what other people like to look at” and that they had been research for “a possible lesson involving Cupid, love and human trafficking seven to eight years ago,” according to the affidavit.

The former pastor had faced two to 10 years in prison if convicted, but his lawyer told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Rankin “probably had a shot in trial,” although the plea deal was a “fair resolution.”

Attorney Wes Ball did not, however, think his client needed to put a sign outside his house.

“If he’s a risk, he belongs in prison, but he’s a low risk,” Ball told the newspaper. “Let him go on with his life on probation.”

Rankin was an army chaplain from 1970 to 1980 and worked at churches in Fort Worth and Amarillo, as well as in Tennessee, before joining the ministry at Bellevue Baptist.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    So, the useless start of Texas let’s people who possess child porn go free and make them hang up a sign, but then are making rulings and laws to keep trans kids from getting needed medical help, and also looking at laws to basically make drag illegal, and by extension make any non gender conforming person illegal, all in the name of protecting kids.


    Can no one in Texas understand that this fucked up pastor is a bigger danger to kids??

    What a fucked up state. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🖕🏻🖕🏻

  2. Avatar

    His excuse was he was doing research and wanted to remind himself of what other people like to look at? Seriously????

    Sage, you said it. Somehow conservatives understand and have more compassion for a sexual predator than they do for a trans person just being themselves.

  3. Avatar

    Sage–My thoughts, exactly. I am trans but the only “harm” I have ever caused to kids (or any people younger than myself) is in getting them to think for themselves. That can really get them (and me) into trouble. Just ask Socrates.

    Obstacle–I have worked in academia. Even so, there are some things I can’t do in the name of “research.”

    That guy keeps the “rank” in “Rankin.”

  4. Avatar
    MJ LIsbeth

    Sage–My thoughts, exactly. How do I, a trans person, harm young people? By getting them to think for themselves! Of course, that gets me into trouble sometimes. (Just ask Socrates.)

    Obstacle–I have worked in academia. Even so, there are some things I could never do in the name of “research.”

    The pastor in this post really keeps the “rank” in “Rankin.”

  5. Avatar

    “His excuse was he was doing research and wanted to remind himself of what other people like to look at.”

    The mental and linguistic gymnastics required to come to this conclusion would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic.

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