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Child Exploitation
09/12/2017

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Indiana gospel singer sentenced in Illinois to 60 years for sexually exploiting a minor, distributing child pornography

URBANA, Ill. — A traveling gospel singer from Indiana was sentenced Tuesday to serve 60 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting a minor and distributing child pornography.

This sentence was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen of the Central District of Illinois.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Decatur (Illinois) Police Department investigated this case.

Shawn Shannon, 45, from Muncie, Indiana, was also ordered to pay $1,387 in restitution to the victim and must serve a lifetime of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.  After a three-day jury trial, on July 27, 2016, Shannon was convicted of 19 counts of sexually exploiting a minor and one count of distributing child pornography.

According to evidence presented at trial, Shannon lured a 13-year-old boy to a hotel in Decatur and directed him to pose for a series of sexually explicit photos which Shannon took with his smartphone.  The evidence showed that Shannon attempted to delete evidence from his iPhone 5s, which included thousands of text messages and contacts after the victim’s mother learned of Shannon’s conduct and confronted him. Expert testimony presented at trial revealed that forensic examiners were able to recover these text messages which demonstrated Shannon’s nefarious intentions with the victim. Shannon also engaged in sexual contact with another boy and took similar photos, according to trial evidence.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Elly M. Peirson of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Maureen C. Cain, a former CEOS Trial Attorney who is now an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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 16,000 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 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 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. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/18/2017