ST. LOUIS – Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged former Missouri pizzeria manager Michael Devlin with using a teenage boy to make child pornography and transporting him across state lines to take part in illegal sex acts.
Devlin is being charged with four felony counts of production of child pornography and two felony counts of transportation of a minor for a criminal sex act in the case of Shawn Hornbeck, U.S. Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway of the Eastern District of Missouri announced.
"This is by far the worst thing we have seen," Hanaway said. "This minor, over the course of five years, had child pornography produced with them as the victim, was taken across state lines so sex crimes could be committed against them."
Click Here to Read the Indictment (pdf)
A Missouri jury on Wednesday indicted Devlin, 41, of using a deadly weapon in snatching 13-year-old Ben Ownby on Jan. 8, four days before police found him and Hornbeck, 15, who had been missing for four years.
The separate, federal indictment announced Thursday involves Hornbeck, who was abducted in October 2002. It is not normally the media's practice of naming sex-abuse victims who are minors, but both Ownby and Hornbeck were in the media spotlight both during and after their ordeals. Hornbeck's family also went on various talk shows after he was reunited with them.
The indictment alleges that between October 2002 and July 2003, Devlin photographed a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Additionally, the indictment charges that between July 2003 and January 2007, Devlin videotaped a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. In February 2004, Devlin allegedly took a minor to Illinois with the intent to engage in criminal sexual assault. Devlin is also charged with taking a minor to Arizona between June 20 and July 3, 2004, with the intent to engage in sexual assault.
"I'm sickened by it," Hanaway said. "I'm sickened by the fact that this minor had his life changed forever in October 2002 and those crimes went on through 2007."
If convicted on the first pornography count, Devlin could receive 10 to 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Some other counts each carry a penalty range of 15 to 30 years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000, while those involving transportation for purpose of criminal sex acts, carry a range of five years to 30 years prison and/or fines up to $250,000, per count.
Hanaway said it's the federal government's preference that Devlin will serve his sentence for the state crimes before he serves his time for the federal ones, but that it will be up to a judge whether those sentences are served one after the other, or concurrently. She said federal prosecutors are working with each of the local attorneys working the cases to make sure the charges against Devlin stick.
"Obviously, we will be advocating the federal sentence only be served after the state's sentence is served, if he's ever released from state custody," she said. "We want to make sure Mr. Devlin is brought to justice."
Scott Sherman, attorney for Shawn Hornbeck and his parents, Craig and Pam Akers, said the family is "grateful and relieved" to hear the charges.
"The family has full faith in the professionalism of U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, and her prosecution team, that are working on this matter," Sherman said. "These are individuals of the highest caliber, dedicated to seeking justice for Shawn while respecting the due process rights of the accused."
Police have charged Devlin with kidnapping and armed criminal action in Washington County, where Shawn was abducted, and with 71 felony counts in St. Louis. The indictment alleges that he restrained and sodomized both boys.
Devlin is being held in the Franklin County, Mo., jail in lieu of $1 million bail.