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July 28, 2016Springfield, ILUnited StatesChild Exploitation

Indiana gospel singer found guilty of sexually exploiting child

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A traveling gospel singer from Indiana was convicted by a federal jury Wednesday of sexually exploiting a minor and distributing child pornography. The conviction was announced by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis of the Central District of Illinois.

This conviction resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Decatur (Illinois) Police Department.

Shawn Shannon, 44, a traveling gospel singer from Muncie, Indiana, was convicted July 27 after a three-day trial of 19 counts of sexually exploiting a minor and one count of distributing child pornography.

The government presented evidence that Shannon lured a 13-year-old boy to a hotel in Decatur and directed him to pose for a series of sexually explicit photos. Shannon also engaged in sexual contact with another minor boy and took similar photos, according to trial evidence.

Shannon was arrested April 15, 2015, and remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 9, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce, Central District of Illinois.

Trial Attorneys Maureen C. Cain and Elly M. Peirson of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

Updated: 07/29/2016