A former Hall County school bus driver and self-described “Patriot Preacher” will spend the next six years behind bars for distributing, receiving and possessing hundreds of images of child pornography. Senior United States District Court Judge William C. O’Kelley handed down the sentence Friday to John Cooper Spinks, 41, of Oakwood, Georgia. His punishment also includes 20 years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine. There is no parole in the federal system. “As a school bus driver, this defendant was in daily contact with the children of Hall County,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “While he was entrusted with our children by day, he was later searching for, downloading, and distributing sexually exploitative images of children at his home computer.”
Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins told The Gainesville Times that Spinks had driven for the school system since 2006. His routes included McEver Elementary, West Hall Middle and West Hall High. Spinks had also passed a criminal background check and, according to Higgins, was regarded by transportation officials as a good employee before his arrest. Spinks, according to the newspaper, also was vice president and chaplain of Christian Men for America, which organized three “God and Country” rallies last year at Hall County churches. Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal (along with former candidates John Oxendine and Eric Johnson) was among the invited speakers to those rallies. Spinks was formerly a senior pastor with Center Grove Baptist Church in Pendergrass, where he reportedly preached from February 2008 until June 2009, according to his Website.
According to Yates and information presented during the guilty plea hearing on June 18, Spinks distributed images of child pornography over the internet to an undercover law enforcement officer who he encountered in a chat room named “#baby&toddlerlove.” In January 2010, Spinks was again found in a chat room known for trading images of child pornography. On March 25, 2010, federal agents executed a search warrant at his home and seized a laptop computer and several other pieces of electronic media. Spinks later admitted to agents that he had searched for, downloaded, and viewed images of child pornography and that he had distributed child pornographic images over the internet. Special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.