A jury trial for Jeffrey Allen Rankin of Great Bend was set to begin Monday but was canceled Friday afternoon after he entered guilty pleas to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, in Barton County District Court.
Rankin originally faced 31 criminal charges, including rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14 years old. As part of a plea agreement, other charges in the case were dismissed. There was also a separate case where he was charged with violating a protective agreement. The Great Bend Tribune contacted the Barton County Attorney’s Office for more information and was referred to Assistant County Attorney Douglas Matthews, who handled the case for the state.
“Other matters are pending but should be resolved by the time of sentencing, now scheduled for early April,” Matthews said. “Depending on his criminal history, Rankin’s sentence could run from a minimum of 31 months up to 136 months of confinement in a Kansas prison.
“His prior criminal history will be the subject of a pre-trial investigation by the Court Services Office, and that information will be presented to the court and to the attorneys involved prior to the sentencing hearing,” Matthews continued. “Due to the nature of the crimes involved, Rankin could be ordered to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. He also faces lifetime post-release supervision, again due to the nature of the crimes involved.”
Court records show that Rankin entered an “Alford plea,” of guilty to the amended complaint. Under this type of plea, the defendant does not admit to the criminal act but admits the evidence would be likely to persuade a jury to find him guilty. Each of the two guilty pleas was to a charge that he had a digital image — thumbdata embedded jpgs — in which a person under 18 was shown engaging in sexually explicit conduct, on March 16, 2016. Sexual exploitation of a child is a level 5 person felony.
The original charges alleged crimes against two minors, dating from as early as July 1, 2011.
His sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. on April 4 in Barton County District Court.