Arrests in child predator sting in McCracken County

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PADUCAH, Ky. (WTVQ) – 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.

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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.

The Attorney General says Wednesday morning, investigators arrested 42-year old David Price, 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 Thursday 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 26-year old Mark Allen Johnson, of Rockfield (Warren County, Ky.), 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 personally in Paducah for what Johnson believed to be sex. Upon arrival Johnson was arrested by investigators. He was arraigned in McCracken District Court Wednesday 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.

“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.”

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.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.