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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WHNT) — A Lauderdale County man has been sentenced to serve 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 in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

36-year-old Michael Tays of Florence was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala to serve 840 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release for producing and possessing child pornography. Tays pleaded guilty to the 20 counts of production of child pornography that he faced, along with one count of possession of child pornography.

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

Statements in court stated that Tays had sexually abused an eight-year-old child repeatedly and recorded the brutality of it all in photographs and videos.

Along with his conviction, the Florence man will be required to register as a sex offender in accordance with 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 ensures 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.” 

FBI Birmingham’s Child Exploitation 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 individuals, like Tays, who exploit them must be held accountable for their reprehensible actions,” SAC Sharp said. “Thanks to the efforts of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force and our partners, this predator will be held accountable for his actions and be identified as a sex offender.”

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals 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 learn more about Project Safe Childhood here.