Middle River Man Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison for Sexually Exploiting Minors to Produce Child Pornography and His Fianceé Pleads Guilty to Same Charge

Couple Created Videos in Which He Sexually Molests a Baby and a Minor Female

March 22, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson sentenced John Fred Nicklas IV, age 35, of Middle River, Maryland, today to 60 years in prison, followed by supervised release for life, on two counts of sexually exploiting minors to produce child pornography. Judge Nickerson also ordered that upon his release from prison, Nicklas will be required to register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Nicklas’ fianceé, Shannon Leigh Honea, age 27, also of Middle River, pleaded guilty today to the same charges.

The sentence and guilty plea were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

According to Nicklas and Honea’s plea agreements, Baltimore County police detectives operating in an undercover capacity received videos and images of child pornography from a computer located at the residence shared by Nicklas and Honea. A search warrant was executed at their home on July 30, 2009 and over 600 images of child pornography involving prepubescent children and sadomasochistic conduct were seized.

A joint investigation by Baltimore County Police and the FBI revealed that between at least February 15, 2009, and July 30, 2009, Nicklas and Honea arranged to obtain videos depicting the sexual abuse of children and to sexually abuse children in order to make their own videos. Nicklas and Honea had minor females present at their residence in Middle River, Maryland. They arranged for the minor females to change clothes in rooms arranged to visually record the minors changing their clothes in order to produce child pornography, and arranged to have minor females spend the evening at the house so that John Nicklas could sexually abuse the children to produce child pornography.

Nicklas and Honea traveled to other states to obtain minors in order to sexually abuse them and produce child pornography. They kept the images depicting the sexual abuse at their residence. John Fred Nicklas IV also sent a letter to Shannon Leigh Honea explaining how he wanted to have daughters with her so that he could sexually molest the children and describing in detail the sexually explicit activities that he would engage in with the children, starting when they were a year old.

Some of child pornography seized from their home included at least six videos created by Nicklas and Honea depicting him sexually abusing a baby girl and a minor female, and recording three minor females as they changed clothes.

As part of her plea agreement, Honea and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Honea will be sentenced to between 30 to 35 years in prison, followed by supervised release for life. U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson scheduled sentencing for June 8, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

As a result of her guilty plea, Honea will also be required to register as a sex offender in the place where she resides, where she is an employee, and where she is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Nicklas and Honea remain detained.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Details about Maryland’s program are available at

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, the Baltimore County Police Department; and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their investigative work and assistance in the prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bonnie S. Greenberg and Judson Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.

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