Carbon Hill man sentenced to 80 years in child prostitution case

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/10/18

A Carbon Hill man — and a former constable — was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in Walker County Circuit Court Friday in a trafficking and child prostitution ring case where he dealt with teenagers to make arrangements so that he could have paid sex with even younger children.

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Carbon Hill man sentenced to 80 years in child prostitution case

Posted

A Carbon Hill man — and a former constable — was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in Walker County Circuit Court Friday in a trafficking and child prostitution ring case where he dealt with teenagers to make arrangements so that he could have paid sex with even younger children.

“A lot of people don’t think it goes on in our community, but it does. I think a lot of things right now are going on similar to this,” Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said Friday afternoon, adding that James William Shedd, 46, was convicted after the jury deliberated for two hours.

The case, which originated in 2014, was originally investigated by Officer James Richardson of the Carbon Hill Police Department, Adair said. It was later taken over by investigator Brian Keeton and Chief Deputy Dayron Bridges of the Walker County Sheriff’s Department.

According to reports in the Daily Mountain Eagle at the time, Shedd was arrested in November 2014. The reports indicated Shedd is a former constable and was held at the time in the Walker County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

The court case started Monday, and the jury came back with a verdict Friday, covering 12 counts in the indictment. The total years to serve was 80 years, although some sentences were to run consecutively.

“The jury convicted the defendant on all counts,” Adair said. Circuit Judge Jerry Selman sentenced Shedd shortly after the verdict.

Shedd received 20 years on four charges of second-degree rape, which was the maximum sentence, to run consecutively, Adair said.

Adair also noted charges of enticing, “which is where you entice a child to a location for immoral purposes. (Selman) gave 10 years on each one of those, which was running concurrently.

Finally, the other four charges were soliciting prostitution. “He gave the maximum sentence on the prostitution cases of 12 months,” he said.

“This case concerned something that I believe is an issue in our community,” Adair said. “Maybe it is not talked about a whole lot. This involved a child prostitution ring that was set up by juveniles. It was multiple children from across the county. When we are talking about kids, we’re talking about 15-year-old kids, in which older juveniles would set up these other juveniles for the purposes of sex with Mr. Shedd.”

The older children setting up the sex were ages 16 and 17. Shedd was paying money to “purchase them for sex,” all for his own sexual acts.

“We know of at least four victims and obviously the two older kids would make six,” he said.

Adair said the children are from all parts of the county, and from different schools.

“There is no one particular place,” he said.

The criminal activity went on about one or two months, he said.

Adair commended his two assistant district attorneys, Chris Sherer and Hollye Farmer. “They did a wonderful job on the case,” he said. “They spent a lot of time with these young people. I want to commend the investigators involved,” including Richardson, Bridges and Keeton.

He said all involved spent many hours on the case, with Sherer and Farmer spending much time with the children and keeping up for them for the trial.

“Getting ready for this trial was very difficult and I commend them for that,” he said, noting all the children took the stand.

Adair noted many people consider buying minors alcohol and cigarettes in convenience stores to be a victimless crime, “but it leads to other things.” He commended workers at a convenience store with having a watchful eye, as they alerted law enforcement.

“One of the problems I think this indicates is a growing problem with minors and human trafficking. When we talk about human trafficking, it is not just people going across state lines,” he said. “It is happening right here in our community. With young people especially, it is a problem. If parents don’t believe that, but this case is illustrative of the issue that we are facing. We have been aware of it. Juvenile authorities are aware of some of these issues. It is a problem in our community.” 

He said it is not a case where the children did not understand what they were doing.

“These victims received money, and they were happy to receive money for doing it,” Adair said. “But trafficking in this situation is the entire process of this going on. When we use words like prostitution, that connotes one thing, but what I think you are talking about is using kids and vulnerable people. People get in vulnerable circumstances like kids that don’t have a whole lot of fit home life and they get themselves into situations where they would accept money for things like this.”

Adair said in this case, the verdict was the “appropriate” verdict.

“We commend the court for issuing a maximum sentence,” he said. “I think it was an appropriate sentence.” 

He said Shedd will be sent to the state prison system, going to Kilby Correctional Facility in Mt. Meigs first for processing and then be sent from there to another state facility. He also noted the new state guidelines on sentencing and prison reform measures should not affect the sentence.

“Hopefully, this will be someone the prison system will keep,” he said.

As he said the case illustrated a bigger issue, Adair urged all parents to be very watchful over their children.

Attorney Daniel Boman, who represented Shedd, said he was researching on a possible appeal, adding he was disappointed that the case did not go their way but that he believed in the jury system.