OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
JULY 15, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HUMAN TRAFFICKING RESCUE PROJECT
OPERATION GUARDIAN ANGEL
NAVAL RECRUITER PLEADS GUILTY TO
SEX TRAFFICKING OF A CHILD
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that an Ottawa, Kan., man pleaded guilty in federal court to the attempted commercial sex trafficking of a child.
This conviction is the result of Operation Guardian Angel, a unique undercover law enforcement investigation targeting the demand for child prostitutes in the Kansas City metro area. As a result of this investigation, a total of seven defendants were indicted in the nation’s first-ever federal prosecution of the alleged customers of child prostitution under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Shane Allan Childers, 32, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs this afternoon to all of the charges contained in a March 10, 2009, federal indictment.
Childers admitted that he attempted to obtain a minor for a commercial sex act. Childers also admitted that he used the Internet and a cell phone to attempt to induce a child to engage in prostitution, and that he traveled across state lines to attempt to engage in a commercial sex act with a minor. By pleading guilty today, Childers also agreed to forfeit to the government his 2002 Chrysler Sebring, which he used to commit the offense.
During the weekend of March 5 to 7, 2009, the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, led by the Independence Police Department, conducted a sting operation targeting local customers who solicit pimps to engage in commercial sex acts with children. The “children” were advertised online at Craig’s List. No real children were actually involved in the sting.
Childers, an active duty naval recruiter, responded to an online ad from the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Lenexa, Kan., where he works, and used his government-owned computer, Navy e-mail address and government cellular phone to arrange the transaction. Childers was wearing his Navy uniform, but had taken off his uniform shirt and was wearing a white undershirt when he knocked on the door of the undercover residence. Childers paid an undercover law enforcement officer $60 to have sex with an 11-year-old girl. He also paid an extra $20 to have intercourse without using a condom.
Under federal statutes, Childers is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $750,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.
Operation Guardian Angel
Operation Guardian Angel was conducted by the Human Trafficking Rescue Project, a joint task force from the Independence Police Department, the FBI, ICE, and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department. During the undercover operation, task force officers placed Internet ads for underage prostitutes. According to court documents, the ads clearly stated that the prostitutes were “little girls” and were “young.” Those who responded to the ads were given directions to an undercover location that was outfitted with audio and video recording equipment. When they arrived at the undercover residence and paid cash for a child prostitute, they were arrested by task force officers.
This operation marks the first time that the U.S. Department of Justice has utilized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to prosecute customers who allegedly attempt to pay for sex with children. While the pimps who offer to sell children to others for prostitution have been prosecuted in the Western District and elsewhere, these indictments are the first in the nation to charge a “John” with attempting to pay for sex with a child.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at