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Gainesville man sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for producing, receiving, and possessing child pornography

John Ernst Tennant

Press release from United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida

John Ernst Tennant, Jr., 71, of Gainesville, Florida, was sentenced Wednesday to 480 months in federal prison for production, receipt, and possession of child pornography. The sentence was announced by Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Tennant’s sentence was the result of a federal jury returning a guilty verdict on June 3, 2021, finding Tennant guilty of production, receipt, and possession of child pornography.

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“The Court’s sentence ensures that this defendant will never harm another child and should serve as a significant deterrent to others who would attempt to prey upon our most vulnerable,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “Acts of such depravity, committed by a caregiver, are both horrific and incomprehensible. We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who engage in such heinous conduct.”

The sentencing court described the crimes as “horrific,” and further stated “too many people are doing these things.” The evidence showed that Tennant sexually victimized toddlers left in his care at a daycare run by his wife in Gainesville, Florida. Tennant photographed the abuse of the children and maintained a large secret collection of child pornography.

The Gainesville Police Department recognizes that child exploitation is the most heinous of crimes that could be committed. “These predators, such as John Tennant, Jr., seek out and perpetrate on the most vulnerable, our children,” said Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones. “Our detectives, and specifically our ICAC unit, work tirelessly and endure a great deal to ensure that our children are safe from predators like these. We are pleased with today’s conclusion but understand that there are many more out there which we will continue to pursue.”

“This case once again demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to pursue those who seek to exploit innocent children,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will not waver in our efforts to identify these predators and seek justice for their victims.”

Tennant’s prison sentence will be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender and will be subject to all sex offender conditions.

The case was investigated by the Gainesville Police Department, North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Williams.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.