Calling his actions “abominable” and “horrific,” a federal judge handed down a 20-year prison sentence for a former Bloomington substitute teacher and minister who sedated and then took illicit pictures of several underage boys.
The sentencing hearing for James C. Love, 37, of the 1200 block of South Barker in Bloomington was short but didn’t lack in emotion or drama. One couple read an impact statement describing the toll Love’s actions have had on their family. Another family’s letter was read by a prosecutor. In that letter, the parents wished physical harm to Love, saying they have lost control of their son, a former three-sport letterman, at a Bloomington high school.
Love admitted at a plea hearing in October that he photographed several minors while they were sleeping on a futon at Love’s residence.
During the hearing, he apologized, saying he hoped the families could find it in their hearts to forgive him. Mihm agreed that was possible but also noted that what Love did could never be fixed.
“This is pain for these people that will last a lifetime. It is a pain that, at least on some level, will never heal,” the judge said.
On the other side was Love’s family. About a dozen members listened quietly as the letters were read. In their letters, which were given to the court, they saw Love a different way – as a caring man who helped the community.
However, those actions, Mihm said in quoting Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” would “be interred with his bones,” while the bad deeds live on.
The sentence was part of a rare fully negotiated deal with prosecutors. Such deals are not common in federal court, where a person’s sentencing range is determined by the U.S. Probation Office.
That range had been determined to be at about 30 years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Schoenbein said the deal took into account the nuances of the case and also that Love’s plea allowed the children involved not to testify.
Also as part of the deal, he agreed to surrender his digital camera and identify any of the subjects in the photographs. Police believe about 20 children were involved but have identified only three so far.
Love had been a substitute teacher for District 87 in Bloomington and Unit 5 in Normal since 2003. He ministered at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington.
Additionally, charges of criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery in McLean County court were dropped as part of the federal plea agreement. He initially was arrested in May 2007 after allegations he molested boys at his home.
Mihm also placed Love on a lifetime term of supervised release, the federal version of probation. Love will likely serve about 17 1/2 years of his sentence.