Twice Convicted Child Sex Offender Sentenced to Over 23 Years
for Online Distribution of Child Pornography
WILMINGTON, Del. – Sean Lawrence, a 40-year-old, twice-convicted child sex offender from Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced today to over 23 years in prison for transportation of child pornography, in violation of federal law. Lawrence also was sentenced to a life term of supervised release following his prison sentence. He also will be required to continue to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works, or attends school.
Lawrence was previously convicted in Missouri in 1995 and 2005 of sodomizing two young boys. He was sentenced to five years in prison for each offense and was required to register as a sex offender upon his release. He also was required to participate in sex offender therapy, from which he was twice discharged as non-compliant.
As a result of his prior convictions for child sex offenses, Lawrence faced an enhanced federal sentencing penalty that required imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, to a maximum sentence of 40 years, in prison.
According to statements made and documents filed in court, Lawrence came to the attention of a Wilmington-based Homeland Security Investigations special agent in February 2013, during an online undercover investigation into non-public, peer-to-peer networks being used to distribute child pornography. Lawrence provided the undercover agent, who was posing as a man interested in trading images of child pornography, with access to his non-public, peer-to-peer network. The undercover agent then downloaded 11 video files of child pornography from Lawrence’s computer.
During the investigation, law enforcement agents determined that Lawrence was distributing child pornography from various locations via a wireless mobile device. On February 14, 2013, Special Agents of the Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia HSI offices partnered with Kansas City-based agents to apprehend Lawrence while he was actually transmitting and receiving images of child pornography via the Internet. The local agents conducted simultaneous online sessions with Lawrence in an effort to geo-locate him. Data associated with those online sessions indicated that Lawrence was then accessing the Internet from the second floor of Metropolitan Community College Library, in Kansas City, Missouri. The local agents quickly relayed this information to the Kansas City-based HSI Special Agents, who then found Lawrence in the back corner of the campus library. Lawrence had an open laptop in front of him and was downloading a video of child pornography set to music when he was apprehended.
A subsequent forensic examination of computer equipment seized from Lawrence in the library and at his residence resulted in the discovery of over 10,000 still images and 200 videos of child pornography that Lawrence had downloaded to those devices. The depictions of child pornography featured mostly prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts with adult males or other boys. A number of the files depict violence, sadistic or masochistic abuse or bondage. In addition, forensic evidence established that Lawrence distributed child pornography to over 850 other individuals.
During an interview with law enforcement agents, Lawrence stated that he had traded hundreds of child pornography images and videos via file sharing programs and email each day since 1999, except during his time in prison. Lawrence estimated that he has traded 100-1,000 images of child pornography a day since 1998-1999. He further estimated that he traded child pornography files with an average of about 1-3 people per day via email. Lawrence also told the agents that he went to the Metropolitan Community College campus approximately 3-4 days a week to use the wireless Internet to receive and distribute child pornography. Lawrence said that he also utilized the wireless networks at the public library, and in McDonalds and Burger King locations to distribute and receive child pornography.
After today’s sentencing hearing before United States District Judge Sue L. Robinson, United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III stated, “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. 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.”
"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."
This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward J. McAndrew.