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Child rapist who was pardoned by Gov. Matt Bevin facing new federal charges

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One of the men former Gov. Matt Bevin released from prison in a last-minute pardon as he left office in December has been charged again — this time by the federal government.

Dayton Jones, 24, of Hopkinsville, was previously convicted in state court for sodomy, wanton endangerment and distributing a matter portraying a sexual performance of a minor after he and a group of friends shared a video of them sodomizing a classmate at a party in 2014. The victim was 15-years-old, unconscious and almost died of his injuries.

Jones was one of four men who pleaded guilty to the crime, but only his sentence pardoned and commuted by the Republican governor.

He is now being charged with production of child pornography in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville. The charges stem from the same 2014 incident.

“This prosecution is about one thing and one thing only, Mr. Jones’ conduct in harming someone’s child in the Western District of Kentucky in violation of federal law,” U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said in a news release. “It serves as a reminder that despite these uncertain times, Kentucky families are well-served by some inspiring federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals that put themselves at risk to protect our kids.”

Jones would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if found guilty. The maximum would be 30 years in prison.

Bevin issued several controversial pardons and commutations last year, including to people who were convicted of sexual assault of minors and murder. In Jones’ case, the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Christian County urged the governor to issue the pardon, claiming without evidence that Jones was targeted by a Democratic prosecutor, according to the Courier-Journal.

Gov. Andy Beshear, who was attorney general when Jones pleaded guilty, said in December he was bothered by Bevin’s pardon. He called the crime a “gang rape.”

When explaining the pardons in a late night phone call to a Courier-Journal reporter, Bevin told the reported that he had gone through hundreds of documents about the case and that he believed that Jones’ co-defendants had thrown him under the bus to get a better deal with the prosecutors. Bevin claimed there was “zero” evidence that Jones was involved.

The commonwealth’s attorney, Rick Boling, has since apologized.

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