Local law enforcement assists in child ponorgraphy case against Iowa man

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 3:40 PM CST
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(25 NEWS) - An Iowa man was sentenced Tuesday, December 21, to 27 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for the production of child pornography, along with registering as a sex offender.

Canton Police and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the case against Michael E. Shell, 52, of Melrose, Iowa.

According to the Department of Justice, the government presented evidence that Shell sexually abused a minor victim for approximately five years – when the victim was between 9 and 14 years old. Shell took photographs and videos of the abuse, which occurred while the victim lived within the Central District of Illinois.  Photographs from the search warrant at Shell’s residence in Iowa revealed a child-sized sex doll and school pictures of the minor victim on Shell’s refrigerator.  Law enforcement also seized multiple devices that contained dozens of images and videos of the abuse. Evidence presented in court included testimony that the abuse occurred hundreds of times and only ended when the minor victim demanded the abuse stop at the age of 14.

A statement prepared by the minor victim was read to the court, describing how damaging Shell’s manipulation and abuse was.

Also at the sentencing hearing, Senior U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm found that Shell intentionally groomed the minor victim and questioned whether he was really remorseful. The judge noted the disconnect between the letters of support for Shell written by family and friends and the conduct at issue: the lengthy and intentional molestation of the victim. The judge found that the victim had suffered irreparable harm from the abuse, both psychologically and physically.

Shell was indicted in May 2019 and pleaded guilty in April 2021.

The statutory penalties for production of child pornography are at least 15 years and up to 30 years’ imprisonment; a maximum lifetime term of supervised release; a fine of up to $250,000; and restitution, if requested.

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