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Press Release

Indiana Gospel Singer Sentenced to 60 Years for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Distribution of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Muncie, Indiana man was sentenced today to serve 60 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a minor and distribution of child pornography, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Patrick D. Hansen of the Central District of Illinois.


Shawn Shannon, 45, a traveling gospel singer, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce of the Central District of Illinois, who also ordered Shannon to pay $1,387 in restitution to the victim and serve a lifetime of supervised release following his release from prison.  Shannon was convicted on July 27, 2016, after a three-day jury trial of 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of distribution of child pornography.


According to evidence presented at trial, Shannon lured a 13-year-old boy to a hotel in Decatur, Illinois, and directed him to pose for a series of sexually explicit photos which Shannon took with his iPhone 5s.  The evidence showed that Shannon attempted to delete evidence from his iPhone 5s including thousands of text messages and contacts after the victim’s mother learned of Shannon’s conduct and confronted him.  Expert testimony presented at trial revealed that forensic examiners were able to recover these text messages which demonstrated Shannon’s nefarious intentions with the victim.  Shannon also engaged in sexual contact with another minor boy and took similar photos, according to trial evidence.


Shannon was arrested on April 15, 2015, and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. 


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Decatur Police Department investigated the case.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Elly M. Peirson of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Maureen C. Cain, a former CEOS Trial Attorney who is now an Assistant United States Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.


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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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

Updated September 11, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-992