PADUCAH — Attorney General Andy Beshear joined the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office to announce the arrest of two men following his office’s first west Kentucky sting targeting child predators.
Over the last several weeks, Beshear’s Cyber Crimes Unit expanded its’ child protection and law enforcement efforts by working with Sheriff Jon Hayden’s office to implement Operation Shielded Child in McCracken County.
The operation employed cyber-crime investigators from the Attorney General’s Office to investigate individuals who possess and distribute child pornography and those who solicit minors for sex online.
Wednesday morning, investigators arrested David Price, 42, of Paducah, in McCracken County and charged him with 20 counts of possession of a matter portraying the sexual performance by a minor, a Class D felony.
According to cyber investigators, a search warrant was executed at Price’s residence where his personal computer was found to contain explicit images of children. Price was arraigned today in McCracken District Court. His cash bond was set at $5,000.
Investigators completed two other search warrants in McCracken County this week. Pending the forensic examination of equipment collected during the searches, investigators anticipate additional child pornography arrests in the area.
Operation Shielded Child investigators also arrested Mark Allen Johnson, 26, of Rockfield (Warren County), July 19 and charged him with prohibited use of an electronic communications system to procure a minor for sex, a Class D felony.
The arrest record states Johnson posted an online ad soliciting sex and asked to engage in sex acts with an undercover investigator who was posing as a minor. Johnson arranged to travel from Warren County to meet the minor persona in Paducah for what Johnson believed to be sex. Upon arrival Johnson was arrested by investigators. He was arraigned in McCracken District Court yesterday morning. His cash bond was set at $2,500.
Operation Shielded Child cases will be handled by the Office of the McCracken County Commonwealth’s Attorney.
The work of the Cyber Crimes Unit, a division of the Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in the Office of the Attorney General, is part of Beshear’s core mission to keep sexual predators away from Kentucky’s children.
“I would like to thank my team, Sheriff Hayden and the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department for helping to make Operation Shielded Child a success,” Beshear said. “It’s a core mission of my office to ensure our communities are safe, and we will continue to work vigorously with local law enforcement to stop pedophiles from victimizing our children.”
“Working with and around this team of investigators for the past couple of days reinforces my belief in that efforts are being made to rid our Kentucky communities of these suspected sexual predators,” Hayden said. “All of us with children or grandchildren should feel somewhat at ease in knowing that someone is watching and looking out for them. The knowledge and professionalism exhibited by the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations was impressive.”
Since taking office Jan. 4, Beshear’s Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested or convicted 30 sexual predators. Beshear’s office is on pace to more than triple the number of child sex offenders arrested.
Beshear said Kentuckians have a moral and legal responsibility to report instances of cyber crime to his office by calling 866-524-3672 or emailing DCIForce@ky.gov. Information may be shared anonymously.