(STL.News) – A Georgia couple has been indicted on multiple child pornography charges in a virtual U.S. District Court grand jury session necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Paul Joseph Keegan, 29, of Midway, Ga., is charged with three counts of Production of Child Pornography, and one count each of Receipt of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography, while Sharon Elizabeth Keegan, 28, of Midway, Ga., is charged with one count each of Production of Child Pornography, Distribution of Child Pornography, and Possession of Child Pornography, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The most serious charges carry a penalty of up to 30 years in prison, along with substantial financial penalties followed by a period of supervised release.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“This case represents a substantial cooperative effort between local and federal law enforcement agencies in investigating and bringing charges,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Together with our law enforcement partners we are shining our light in the dark corners where vulnerable victims need our help most.”
Undercover agents monitoring messaging applications were alerted to images of child pornography and notified Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), leading law enforcement agencies to the Keegans’ residence and the subsequent discovery of images exploiting two minor victims on electronic devices in possession of the Keegans.
“The production of child pornography and the associated victimization of the child in producing such material tears at the heart of every parent out there,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI and all of its partners will continue to prioritize production investigations as there is always a child in the shadows crying out for help to escape.”
“This indictment shows the dedicated work of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes against children,” said Vic Reynolds, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is committed to working with our local, state, and federal partners to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation.”
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This investigation took place under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, and was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and the Richmond Hill Police Department. The case is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kirkland and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.