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Press Release

Jacksonville Man Sentenced to More Than 24 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Jacksonville man was sentenced today to 292 months in prison and 20 years of supervised release for production of child pornography. William Austin Strawn, 30, pled guilty to the charge on January 3, 2023. 

According to court documents and other information presented in court, in November 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) infiltrated a Kik chat group that was dedicated to sharing and discussing original videos of child pornography.  A member of the group with the username “Craig Shellston” began communicating with an undercover FBI agent about the sexual abuse of a child with whom he had contact.  “Craig Shellston” sent multiple videos that depicted him sexually abusing a child.

Emergency court orders were issued to find the lessee of the IP address used by “Craig Shellston” since the FBI believed a child was in immediate danger.  The IP address belonged to a residence in Jacksonville where Strawn lived.  A search warrant was executed at the residence and Strawn was arrested. 

Strawn gave a statement to law enforcement wherein he admitted to being a part of the Kik chat group and admitted to receiving child pornography depicting children between the ages of 5 and 10.  He admitted to committing sexual acts with the child with whom he had access.  During jail telephone conversations he admitted to others to producing child pornography. 

 "Strawn's crimes are heinous, and the long-term impact on his victim is immeasurable. The lengthy sentence he must serve in federal prison should send a powerful message. The FBI will do everything possible to hold those accountable who abuse the most vulnerable members of our communities. Protecting children should be everyone's priority," said Robert M. DeWitt, the FBI Charlotte Special Agent in Charge. 

“We value our partnership with the federal agencies and that partnership has made Jacksonville a safer place,” said Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after the sentencing was concluded.  U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle presided over the sentencing.  The Jacksonville Police Department, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charity Wilson prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 7:22-cr-000196-BO.


Updated May 31, 2023

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