Jacksonville man who photographed sexual abuse of 11-year-old gets 60 years in prison

Booking photo of Columbus Jeffrey (Photo provided by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 44-year-old Jacksonville man who photographed his sexual assaults of an 11-year-old child and distributed the pictures online pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison.

Columbus Donavan Jeffrey was also ordered to serve a lifetime term of supervised release, register as a sex offender, and pay $24,000 in restitution to child victims.

Jeffrey pleaded guilty on Dec. 10, 2020.

At the time of his arrest in 2019, Jeffrey worked at UF Health. He was fired.

According to court documents, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received information from a company that hosts an online social messaging application. Specifically, on May 3, 2019, a user named “hideme1977,” subsequently identified as Jeffrey, used the app to upload several photos to the internet. These photos, taken by Jeffrey, depicted him sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. NCMEC referred this matter to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for investigation.

On Oct. 3, 2019, JSO detectives and other officers executed a search warrant at Jeffrey’s residence, where he admitted he had used the “hideme1977” user name on the app. JSO detectives were also able to identify and locate the child shown in the photos, who stated that Jeffrey had sexually abused the child on at least three separate occasions in 2019.

JSO conducted a forensic examination of Jeffrey’s cellphone which revealed: images of the same child being sexually abused by Jeffrey on two other dates in 2019; online messages showing Jeffrey used the internet to share the sexual assault photos with others; and that Jeffrey maintained a collection of 635 images and 57 videos depicting the sexual abuse of other minors, including several depicting the rape of infants and toddlers.

“Predators who exploit innocent children are among the most evil criminals in society, and the acts committed by this defendant are among the most egregious that we have investigated,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “This case proves that the FBI Jacksonville Division is fully committed to holding child predators accountable for their actions, and we remain dedicated to ensuring that criminals like him cannot bring harm to the most vulnerable members of our communities ever again. We are thankful for the partnership of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in the relentless effort to seek justice for these victims. Be assured our work will not end here.”

This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys D. Rodney Brown and Kelly S. Karase.

This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.