WILMINGTON, Del. – A twice convicted Kansas City, Mo., man was sentenced Monday to more than 23 years in prison for transportation of child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Sean Lawrence, 40, must also serve a life term of supervised release following his prison sentence and is required to continue to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works or attends school.
"This case is a clear reminder of HSI’s determination to pursue predators who sexually exploit children, wherever they may be," said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge for the HSI Philadelphia. "The defendant expected the shield of anonymity to protect him in cyberspace; he was wrong. HSI and our law enforcement partners will unremittingly investigate these crimes and bring perpetrators to justice."
Lawrence was previously convicted in Missouri in 1995 and 2005 of sodomizing two boys. He was sentenced to five years in prison for each offense and required to register as a sex offender upon his release. He also had to participate in sex offender therapy, where he was twice discharged for non-compliance.
Lawrence faced an enhanced federal sentencing penalty – between 15 and 40 years – due to his prior convictions.
According to court documents, HSI special agents learned of Lawrence in February 2013, during an online undercover investigation into non-public, peer-to-peer networks being used to distribute child pornography. Lawrence provided an undercover HSI special agent, posing as a man interested in trading images of child pornography, access to his non-public, peer-to-peer network. The undercover special agent then downloaded 11 video files of child pornography from Lawrence’s computer.
During the investigation, HSI special agents determined Lawrence distributed child pornography from various locations via a wireless mobile device.
On Feb. 14, local law enforcement in Kansas City assisted HSI by geolocating Lawrence at the Metropolitan Community College Library. That’s where special agents from HSI offices in Philadelphia and Kansas City arrested him. He had an open laptop in front of him and was downloading a video of child pornography set to music at the time of his arrest.
Subsequent forensic examination of computer equipment seized from Lawrence in the library and at his residence revealed he had downloaded more than 10,000 still images and 200 videos of child pornography. The depictions of child pornography featured mostly prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts with adult males or other boys. A number of the files depicted violence, sadistic or masochistic abuse or bondage. In addition, forensic evidence established that Lawrence distributed child pornography to more than 850 other individuals.
"This two-time offender will now have over 23 years in a federal prison to think about his crimes and children throughout this country will have one less predator stealing their youthful innocence," said U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III. "Again, I strongly urge parents to closely monitor their children’s use of computers. The rapid expansion of social media and the ease at which predators can contact children has never been easier. The best defense is to monitor as closely as possible what your children are doing on their computers and iPads and iPhones."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. McAndrew prosecuted this case.