SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A local man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to transporting a minor across state lines for illicit sex, announced Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Missouri State Highway Patrol; the Wright County, Mo.; Sheriff's Department; the Douglas County, Mo., Sheriff's Department; and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.
Shane Jay Fleetwood, 41, of Ava, Mo., pleaded guilty March 16 before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr, interrupting a jury trial that began the day before.
Evidence introduced on the first day of the trial indicated that Fleetwood met the victim's family at a church near Ava, and Fleetwood's daughter befriended the victim. The victim's parents allowed Fleetwood, a professional truck driver, to take the victim, who was 15 years old at the time, on a weekend trip to Kansas with him and his daughter in February 2010. However, they later learned that Fleetwood's daughter did not accompany them on the trip.
Fleetwood's victim testified at trial that she and Fleetwood had sex in his semi-truck during their trip to Kansas, as well as at Fleetwood's residence after their return. The victim's parents confronted her about the relationship after they discovered a Valentine's Day card and letter that Fleetwood had given his victim.
Under federal statutes, Fleetwood is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting the case.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.