SVEConnect

Chattanooga Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Sexual Abuse of Children

Mark Deakins, 64, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 7 by the Honorable Charles E. Atchley, Jr., United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga, after many years of engaging in the sexual abuse of minors.

On May 11, 2023, Deakins was found guilty of criminal offenses in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421, 2251(a), 2252A(a)(5)(B) and (b)(2), and 2260A, following a trial in U.S. District Court. According to evidence presented at trial, Deakins repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted numerous pre-teen and teen boys over a period from 1995 to 2018 in his various residences and other locations in the Chattanooga area. He also transported a victim across state lines to engage in illegal sexual exploitation and abuse. Deakins committed these crimes while already on the Sex Offender Registry for past convictions.

The evidence presented at trial demonstrated how egregious the defendant’s conduct was. He hunted for the weakest and most vulnerable. He preyed on young boys desperate for male role models in a vacuum created by absentee fathers. He often lured the boys with promises to mentor them about construction and tools. For over 20 years, the defendant recorded himself grooming, sexually assaulting, and raping them. The videos and images he made himself numbered in the thousands, and the defendant also possessed thousands of images of other child sexual abuse material from across the world, which law enforcement agents discovered when they executed search warrants on his home and computers. The trial featured testimony from victims spanning multiple generations of his crimes.

“For nearly three decades, Deakins, a repeat sex offender, committed unspeakable crimes against pre-teen and teen boys,” said U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III. “Thanks to the tireless work of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and our prosecutors, this defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to protecting our children through the prosecution of recidivist child predators to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Deakins’s offenses are heinous, leaving immeasurable impacts on his victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Joseph E. Carrico of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.). “Unfortunately, exploitation of youth is a very real and growing issue in our country. The F.B.I. will continue to do everything in its power to ensure children, who are the most vulnerable members of our community, are protected.”

The F.B.I., United States Marshals Service, Red Bank Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office were among the law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation that led to Mark Deakins’s conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Brooks and Steven S. Neff represented the United States.

This case was investigated as part of Project Safe Childhood (P.S.C.), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, P.S.C. marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about P.S.C., please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, click on the link for “Publications & Resources.”