Florence man sentenced to 70 years in prison for child sex abuse

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WHNT) – A Lauderdale County man has been sentenced to nearly 70 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually exploiting a young child, according to U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and FBI Special Agent manager Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

Michael Tays, 36, of Florence, was sentenced by US District Judge Madeline H. Haikala to 840 months in prison, followed by life probation for producing and possessing child pornography. Tays pleaded guilty to the 20 counts of producing child pornography he faced, as well as one count of possession of child pornography.

Tays was arrested in 2019 on the charges and placed on $250,000 bond after Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office investigators said a family member found cellphone photos and videos of Tays forcing an 8-year-old girl in sexual acts.

Court statements said Tays repeatedly sexually abused an eight-year-old child and recorded the brutality of it all in photographs and video.

Along with his sentencing, the Florence man will have to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

“There is no place in our communities for those who prey on vulnerable children,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “This sentence effectively guarantees that Tays will spend the rest of his life in prison. Through collaborative law enforcement efforts, we continue to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these horrific crimes.

The Birmingham FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force investigated the case, along with the St. Florian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Leann White prosecuted the case.

Michael Tays (Lauderdale Co. Sheriff’s Office)

“Children are among the most vulnerable victims, and the individuals, like Tays, who exploit them must be held accountable for their wrongdoings,” said SAC Sharp. “Through the efforts of the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and our partners, this predator will be held accountable for his actions and identified as a sex offender.”

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a national initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims.

You can read more about the Safe Childhood Project here.


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