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Kentucky man released from prison by ex-Gov. Matt Bevin arrested on federal child porn charges

The latest charges stem from the same sexual assault that Dayton Jones pleaded guilty to in state court.
Image: Dayton Jones
Dayton Jones.Kentucky Department of Corrections

A Kentucky man whose state prison sentence for a 2014 sexual assault was commuted last year by former Gov. Matt Bevin has been arrested on federal child pornography charges, authorities said Tuesday.

In a statement, federal prosecutors in the Western District of Kentucky said Dayton Jones, 24, faces one charge of producing child sex abuse material. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Jones had been serving 15 years for the state charges.

The crimes alleged Tuesday stem from the same 2014 sexual assault. In an earlier case brought by local prosecutors, Jones pleaded guilty to state charges, including sodomy and the distribution of material depicting sexual performance of a minor.

Local authorities said Jones and several other people assaulted a 15-year-old boy with a sex toy while he was unconscious at a party in Hopkinsville, in Kentucky's southwest corner. The victim's colon was punctured and his bladder was injured in an assault that was recorded and uploaded to Snapchat, NBC affiliate WAVE of Louisville reported.

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Bevin, a Republican, commuted Jones' sentence in December after he was lobbied by Christian County Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Boling, The Associated Press reported. Boling later apologized for the letter and asked forgiveness for the "embarrassment that I have caused this community," according to the AP.

Bevin said he commuted Jones' sentence because he believed there was "zero" evidence linking him to the crime except for the "testimony of kids who were getting a better deal by throwing [him] under the bus," the Courier-Journal newspaper of Louisville reported.

Tuesday's statement from U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman did not mention the commutation.

"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," Coleman said.

Federal prosecutors allege that Jones created the video and shared it with others on social media.

It was unclear whether Jones, who is in custody, has legal representation. A lawyer who has represented him in the past, Darren Wolff, said he was disappointed by the charges.

"This is the same set of facts," he told NBC News. "This is an abuse of the system."

Bevin, who lost to Democrat Andy Beshear in November, pardoned or commuted the sentences of hundreds of people before he left office in December, including those of a child rapist and a convicted killer.

The pardons drew outrage from victims' families and lawmakers. Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat, said they showed a "shocking lack of judgment" and were a potential "abuse of our system of justice."

Bevin has defended the commutations and pardons, saying America is a nation of second chances.

"The myriad statements and suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process, are both highly offensive and entirely false," he tweeted in December.