Arkansas Man Pleads Not Guilty to Charge of Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Unlawful Sexual Activity
Burlington, Vermont – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that on June 30, 2023, Nicholas Shelton, 24, of Hope, Arkansas, pleaded not guilty to a single-count indictment that charges him with using a facility of interstate and foreign commerce to entice, persuade, and coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity for which a person could be held criminally liable. United States Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle had previously ordered that Shelton remain in custody until trial, which has not been scheduled.
According to court records and proceedings, in approximately March 2023, Shelton began communicating with a 15-year old minor female victim from Essex, Vermont, using various social media platforms, telephone conversations, and text messaging. The communications between Shelton and the minor victim included sexually explicit content. Shelton traveled to Vermont in early April and met with the minor victim, who hid him in the garage of her family’s home. After her parents discovered Shelton, they instructed him to leave and to leave their daughter alone. Instead, Shelton and the minor victim left together, which triggered the filing by the parents of a missing persons report with the Essex Police Department. Three days later, Shelton and the minor victim were discovered camping in a wooded area near Sand Hill Park in Essex, Vermont. Shelton was taken into custody. Shelton gave consent for law enforcement to search his cell phone, which is where his communications with the minor victim were discovered.
U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the efforts of the Essex Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson is handling the prosecution of Shelton. Shelton is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven L. Barth.
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 Child Exploitation Obscenity Section, Criminal Division (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 www.justice.gov/psc.
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