Man hires forensic investigator to prove innocence who turned him in for alleged images of a minor
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A man hired a forensic investigator to prove his innocence, only for the investigator to turn him in after allegedly finding 'a large amount of child porn' in his data.
Dr Thomas Patrick Shannon, an orthodontist in West Michigan, was arrested on Thursday (January 5) following an investigation which saw him accused of soliciting minors for explicit photos and videos.
In 2021, Kent County detectives were alerted by the Fuquay Varina Police Department about Shannon's alleged exchange with a 17-year-old girl.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the 63rd District Court, this led to an investigation in which detective Tim Potts interviewed Shannon at his practice and asked if he remembered talking to the girl on Snapchat two years prior.
He is reported to have replied, "Possibly, yes."
Potts then said, "You asked for some nude photographs and you were going to send her money,” to which the 41-year-old orthodontist apparently said, "If it happened, obviously it’s all there and I have to fess up to it."
Court documents go on to state that Shannon decided to hire a forensic investigator to comb through his iPhone and iCloud accounts and show 'there was no child porn stored on it'.
But in a shocking twist, the investigator is said to have found 'a large amount of child porn' in Shannon's data, including sexually explicit photos of children under the age of 10.
Kent County detective Christopher Goehring continued the sting operation by executing search warrants on Shannon's devices and data.
Authorities claim that this then led to the discovery of more sexually explicit images of infants and prepubescent and adolescent children.
Detectives also said they uncovered records suggesting Shannon had been communicating with and seeking explicit photos and videos with minors and they believe he tried to 'make arrangements to have sex with the minors'.
Per the affidavit: "Records dating back to January 2019 shows Shannon had been communicating and soliciting known minors online for sexually explicit nude photographs and videos."
The documents go on to state that the doctor has been accused of using numerous social media apps and online banking accounts to pay for the material.
Shannon has since been charged by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office on eight felonies including aggravated possession of child pornography as well as using computers to commit a crime.
The investigation is still ongoing, with police urging anyone with information on the 41-year-old to come forward.
Shannon's attorney, Frank Stanley, said in a statement: "My client begins the legal process with the presumption of innocence.
"He has cooperated fully with authorities in their investigation. We look forward to his day in court when these allegations can be addressed."
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111