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Press Release

Pittsburgh Man Sentenced to 5 Years for Distributing Images and Videos of the Sexual Abuse of Minors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, PA. – A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to five years’ imprisonment and 10 years’ supervised release on his conviction of distribution of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon imposed the sentence on Shawn O’Brien, age 51, of the City’s South Side neighborhood.

According to information presented to the court, from May 17, 2016, to May 18, 2016, O’Brien knowingly distributed images and videos in computer graphics files, which depicted the sexual exploitation of minors to individuals with whom he was communicating over the KIK Messenger software application. Agents of the FBI seized numerous electronic devices from O’Brien’s residence during the execution of a federal search warrant. Forensic analysis of the contents of the electronic devices revealed that O’Brien was in possession of more than 1200 still images and 23 videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children, many of whom were under the age of 12 years.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Bissoon stated that a five-year term of imprisonment reflected the very serious nature of the criminal conduct and O’Brien’s acceptance of responsibility.

Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Chung commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Allegheny County District Attorney Investigations Unit, the Allegheny County Police Department, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of O’Brien.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated May 4, 2022

Project Safe Childhood