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Press Release

Trial Set for Iowa Man Charged with Child Sex Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

PEORIA, Ill. – Trial is scheduled on July 29, 2019, in Peoria, Ill., for a Monroe County, Iowa, man, Michael E. Shell, who has been indicted on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child; travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct; and, sexual exploitation of a child. Shell, 49, of Melrose, Iowa, has been ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial.

The indictment alleges that from July 2011 and continuing to about July 2012, Shell crossed a state line to engage in sexual acts with a female under the age of 12; that from May 2014 to January 2015, Shell traveled with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a child; and, from July 2011 to January 2015, Shell engaged in sexually explicit conduct with a child to produce child pornography.

If convicted, the statutory penalty for aggravated sexual abuse of a child is a minimum of 30 years and up to life in prison; travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison; and, sexual exploitation of a child carries a penalty of at least 15 years and up to 30 years in prison. In addition, each of the offenses carries a potential maximum fine of $250,000.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Secret Service; the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office; the Canton, Ill., Police Department; the Bloomington, Ill., Police Department; the Monroe County Iowa Sheriff’s Office; Iowa State Patrol; and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul B. Morris in the prosecution.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The 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 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

Updated June 17, 2019

Project Safe Childhood