Maryland man sentenced in Brownsburg online 'sextortion' case

Trevor Shea

A Maryland man was sentenced to 33 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of production of child pornography. Trevor J. Shea, 21, also faces lifetime supervised release after his time is served. One of his victims was a teenage girl from Brownsburg.

US attorney Joseph Hogsett announced the plea and sentencing Friday. Hogsett called it a landmark case.

Shea admitted to blackmailing ten teenage girls to produce "images and videos of themselves engaging in sadistic and masochistic abuse and other sexually explicit conduct."

Eyewitness News spoke to one of the plaintiffs, who was 16 at the time of the incidents. She and two other friends visited an online webcam site where they exposed their breasts to unknown webcam viewers. A week later, the threats began.

The woman told Eyewitness News in a 2011 interview that Shea told her he would post the images online unless she complied with his demands to produce more sexually explicit videos. The woman complied with some of Shea's demands. She said she hesitated to seek help out of embarrassment, but wishes she'd gone to police sooner. She said she suffered nightmares and feared for her safety.

"He just kept messaging me and the threats got worse and worse and he just said, 'If you do this and this for me then it will all go away,'" she explained about what Shea told her.

She said Shea went online and searched out details about her.

"He knew where I lived. My and he knew my mom's first, last, middle name, my address," she added.

After the young woman told her mother, they went to the Brownsburg Police Department, who were able to trace the internet communications. A federal search warrant was obtained and executed at Shea's Maryland home in March 2010. Police found evidence during that search showing that numerous young women around the country were victimized by Shea in a manner virtually identical to the Brownsburg case. Five of those other victims were identified as minor girls.

After Shea was indicted in June 2010 on four counts of production of child pornography for his conduct against the Brownsburg teen, he made an initial appearance and was released to his Maryland home on conditions, including home detention with electronic monitoring and a prohibition on his use of a computer or the Internet.

In November, a Florida teen reported to police that she had been threatened in a similar manner by a man later determined to be Shea. Shea was arrested again in December 2010 and has remained in custody since then.

Investigators say Shea targeted three other minor girls in November and December 2010 while on pretrial release.

About the case

The case was investigated by the Brownsburg Police Department, USPIS, Indiana State Police, Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Department, and the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Substantial assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section's High Technology Investigative Unit, and Maryland State Police.

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 the Criminal Division's CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

Project Safe Childhood