Unedited press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Alabama:
United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that United States District Judge Jeffrey Beaverstock sentenced defendant Jerald Sells, 62, to 40 years imprisonment after a federal jury found him guilty at trial in September 2020 on charges in a child exploitation case. As part of his sentence, the judge ordered that the defendant receive mental health and sex offender treatment as directed by the U.S. Probation Office, register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, pay special assessments totaling $10,200, and have no contact with minors. The judge further ordered that Sells be supervised by federal probation officers for 25 years after finishing his prison term.
On June 24, 2020, a federal grand jury for the Southern District of Alabama indicted Sells on one count of transporting minors across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and one count of aggravated sexual abuse for crossing of a state line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a child under the age of 12.
The jury heard two days of evidence during the trial, which began on September 28, 2020. According to the evidence introduced at trial, a child victim was abused for years by the defendant. The victim testified at trial that Sells had sexually abused her many times over the course of several years, including during one of his trucking trips from Alabama to Ohio, and back again. The defendant was employed as a long-haul trucker.
In April 2019, the victim disclosed the abuse to a school counselor. The counselor immediately contacted police. The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office investigated the offense. During an interview with law enforcement, the defendant confessed to the abuse.
The jury also heard from a second child victim, who was abused by the defendant in Sells’s home in Mobile.
The victim wrote to the Court before today’s sentencing hearing. She described how the defendant’s abuse had irreparably altered her life.
The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kacey Chappelear prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.