Irish Mormon Missionary Nabbed in Online Child Sex Sting

A 63-year-old man referred to in the media as an Irish Mormon missionary, now living in the United Kingdom, has been sentenced to 7 years in prison after being caught in an online sting operation.  Joseph Shanks admitted in court to 10 sex charges.  At the time of his arrest, Shanks was living at the  Missionary Training Center in Chorley, Lancashire.

Shanks was caught in an online sting operation conducted by Kent Police’s Pedophile Online Investigation Team.  Shanks thought he was communicating online with the mother of three children ages 3, 6, and 9 years old.  He didn’t find out that he was really talking to a police investigator until he had driven 260 miles to sexually abuse the three children.

Prosecutor Daniel Stevenson said: “Following conversations between ‘Sarah’ and Shanks it was clear from their conversation that the meeting was to facilitate him engaging in sexual activity with all three children.”

Shanks told police he was a member of the Mormon faith living in a Mormon community since 2016 and claimed he was doing “charitable work of God who would reward him with blessings as he tried to bring light into the lives of the three children.”

When he showed up to meet the children the Mormon missionary was carrying a USB stick with thousands of sexually explicit images of children.

The British authorities acted proactively before Shanks could abuse and terrorize these three children.  It isn’t clear if he’d done this before.  However, given his brazen and reckless behavior in this instance, it is more than likely this was not his first criminal foray.

The United Kingdom case demonstrates how parents must be vigilant about their children’s online activity via cellphone or computer.  Sexual predators are highly skilled at luring unsuspecting, innocent children.  The dangers are real and children should be taught not to communicate with those whom they do not know online or by phone.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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