A Metairie man averted his trial for possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 on Monday (April 4), by pleading guilty as charged in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.
William Shiell, 49, also will have to register as a sex offender for 25 years beginning with his release from prison, Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court ordered in accepting the guilty plea.
Shiell had been free from jail since posting a $15,000 bond on the day after his May 24, 2012 arrest by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. The judge allowed Shiell to huddle with his tearful family in the courtroom before he was fingerprinted and taken away in handcuffs to begin his prison sentence.
Sheriff’s Office Detective Nick Vega, working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was investigating an online peer-to-peer sharing website where child pornography is known to be shared, authorities said. The detective tracked illegal activities to Shiell’s home computer, where he found videos and images of prepubescent boys and girls engaged in sexual acts.
Shiell was scheduled to stand trial this week when he opted to plead guilty in exchange for the least amount of prison time the law allows for the crime. At the time of his arrest, possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 carried a punishment of five years to 20 years in prison.
Just months later, in August 2012, Louisiana doubled its punishment for possession of child pornography involving children under age 13 to 10 years to 40 years in prison.
The Internet Crimes Against Children program is funded by the U.S. Justice Department and involves local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working in 61 task forces nationwide that root out child predators on the Internet.
Assistant District Attorney Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.