CHURCH HILL — A Church Hill tattoo parlor operator remained in the Hawkins County Jail over the weekend following his arrest Thursday for allegedly tattooing one underage girl and piercing the tongue and nose of two others.
Jerome Rufus Flannigan, 36, 416 Williams Lane, Rogersville, has been charged with two counts of child piercing and one count of child tattooing. Flannigan, who is on felony probation stemming from Sullivan County convictions including aggravated assault and DUI 4th offense, was held without bond pending arraignment this morning in Hawkins County Sessions Court.
Church Hill police became aware of the alleged offenses in the early morning hours of March 29 when the mother of a 15-year- old girl reported to police that her daughter had received a tattoo at Irish Creek Tattoos located in the Church Hill Shopping Plaza.
CHPD Assistant Chief Roddy Miller said the girl, with her friend, had borrowed the mother’s car the previous evening and were supposed to be home by 11 p.m.
When the girl was located several hours after her curfew she had a tattoo of a mushroom on her back, and her 16-year-old friend had a pierced tongue.
Through the course of their investigation the CHPD learned that the girls allegedly receive their tattoo and piercing from Flannigan earlier that night, and Flannigan allegedly pierced the nose of another 16-year-old girl.
Miller said he attempted to speak to Flannigan that morning, but Flannigan was “too medicated” to communicate. An arrest warrant was later issued for Flannigan, who was picked up Thursday when a Church Hill officer reportedly observed him riding as a passenger in a vehicle on Main Boulevard.
The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail each.
As a result of an ongoing investigation Church Hill police have learned that Flannigan allegedly pierced or tattooed other minors. Following his arrest Flannigan’s computer was seized and Chief Mark Johnson said the computer is currently being examined to determine if it contains the names of other underage customers.
“If you take a 15- or 16-year-old kid and tattoo them or pierce them, that ought to be a felony really,” Johnson said. “It’s a misdemeanor unfortunately, but that combined with his felony probation might result in some prison time. This is a serious offense in the eyes of law enforcement, and as a parent I can can empathize with parents whose child has been tattooed or pierced without their (the parents’) knowledge.
“We have charged Mr. Flannigan to the fullest extent of the law, and if we get more parents coming forward we’ll be adding charges.”
Church Hill police are asking any other parents who believe their underage child has been tattooed or pierced at Irish Creek Tattoos to call Detective Dustin Dean at 357-3487 ext. 2.