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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Norwell Man Enters Guilty Plea in Child Sexual Exploitation Case

BOSTON – A Norwell man entered a guilty plea yesterday in federal court in Boston to sexually exploiting children.

Derek Sheehan, 51, agreed to plead guilty to three counts of sexual exploitation of children. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns deferred acceptance of the plea until sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled by the court. In October 2018, Sheehan was charged by criminal complaint and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury. 

On Aug. 17, 2018, during a search of Sheehan’s home, investigators seized several electronic devices that revealed evidence of child pornography. Video evidence later recovered from the devices showed that Sheehan, a Norwell youth football coach at the time, had videotaped himself sexually abusing three minors while they were 11 and 12 years old while they slept in his home between March 2017 and July 2018.

The charge of sexual exploitation of children provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz; Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael D. O’Keefe; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Norwell Police Chief Edward Lee made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, Deputy Chief of Mendell’s Major Crimes Unit and the Project Safe Childhood coordinator, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Dell’Anno are prosecuting the case.

The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated July 21, 2021