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Man accused in kidnappings charged with child porn

March 5th, 2007 11:21 am by Associated Press



ST. LOUIS - A Missouri man accused of kidnapping and molesting two boys was indicted Thursday on federal charges he took pornographic pictures and videos of one of the youngsters.


The indictment marked the first federal charges against Michael Devlin, 41, a former pizzeria manager from the St. Louis suburbs.


Devlin is charged with kidnapping and other offenses in the 2002 abduction of Shawn Hornbeck, who is now 15, and the January abduction of 13-year-old Ben Ownby. Both boys were found in Devlin's apartment Jan. 12.


U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said four counts of the six-count indictment allege Devlin photographed and videotaped a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts between 2002 and this year. Two other counts allege he took the minor to Illinois and Arizona with the intent to sexually assault him.


Hanaway said all six counts involved the same child, identified only as "S," an apparent reference to Shawn. Authorities have alleged that Devlin held him captive from October 2002 until police found the boy in January.


It is The Associated Press' policy not to identify most alleged victims of sexual abuse, but the boys' stories have been widely publicized and their names are now well-known. Their families have also gone public, conducting media interviews.


Besides the federal charges, Devlin faces 75 state charges, including forcible sodomy, kidnapping and armed criminal action.


He has pleaded not guilty to all those allegations. Devlin's attorney, Michael Kielty, said he had not seen the prosecution's evidence, but he acknowledged that most child pornography cases are "very emotional, very difficult." "If there are photos and videotapes, that certainly would add some weight to the government's case," Kielty said. Shawn Hornbeck knew the federal charges would be filed and was with family members for moral support Thursday, said the family's attorney Scott Sherman. "It's tough," Sherman said. "These are really tough facts. It's the most intimate and the most personal of all the indictments we think," Sherman said. Shawn is ready to testify in the case, no matter how painful it might be, Sherman said. "Justice for he and Ben is a very important element in (Shawn's) recovery," Sherman said. Authorities allege Devlin used a gun to abduct Shawn as the boy was riding his bike near his home. Prosecutors have said he sodomized Shawn at least once a month for the next four years. Neighbors thought Shawn was Devlin's son and said the boy was free to ride a bike, hang out with friends and cruise the Internet. When Ben was abducted soon after getting off a school bus in January, a witness got a description of a white pickup seen speeding away. The description matched Devlin's vehicle, leading to his arrest. Devlin remains jailed on $1 million bond. His federal trial won't begin until his three state trials have concluded.

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