News and Press Releases

Shawn Matthew Russell Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Helena, on December 16, 2010, before Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell, SHAWN MATTHEW RUSSELL, a 23-year-old resident of Helena, pled guilty to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and possession of child pornography. Sentencing has been set for March 17, 2011. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In June 2010, a Helena Police Department detective received a report from the Pendleton Oregon Police Department that a Helena resident, RUSSELL, had met an underage girl via the Internet, developed a sexual relationship with her, and both traveled to have sex with her and transported her across state lines for sexual activity. The fifteen-year-old girl reported that she met RUSSELL in an on-line game room via the Internet in approximately September 2009. The girl's mother, utilizing a web cam, communicated with RUSSELL and told RUSSELL to stay away from the girl, as she was not of majority age. However, the two continued contact through text messages via cell phone, web cam via computer and the Internet and other means. The fifteen-year-old girl reported that the conversations between she and RUSSELL were sexual in nature and included conversations about engaging in sexual activity with RUSSELL even knowing she was only fifteen.

In December 2009, RUSSELL traveled to Oregon where he picked the girl up close to her home and the two traveled to a local motel in the girls' hometown where they had sexual intercourse. The following day, RUSSELL transported the girl from Oregon through Washington and again obtained a motel room and the two engaged in sexual intercourse. The next day, RUSSELL traveled to Montana with the girl, spending the evening in two Montana cities, obtaining hotel rooms and engaging in sexual intercourse. Eventually, RUSSELL and the girl arrived in Helena where RUSSELL's mother learned of the girl's presence and arranged for her to fly back home to her family in Oregon.

At all times, the girl was incapable of consent due to her age. In follow-up e-mails, RUSSELL expressed that he had no regrets about what had happened and that her age of 15 did not matter to him. Law enforcement officers verified RUSSELL's use of credit cards and cash payments for the travel and hotel stays that he used when traveling to meet the girl and transporting her for sexual activity.

RUSSELL's computer was seized and forensically examined. Numerous images of the underage girl engaged in sexually explicit conduct were located; those images were saved by RUSSELL via web cam and the Internet and he continued to possess them on his computer.

RUSSELL faces possible penalties of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and could be sentenced to 30 years, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision .

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Helena Police Department, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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