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Police: Florida man linked to up to 1 million child porn videos, images

By Chandler Friedman and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 9:58 AM EDT, Fri April 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • John Edward Shearen, 51, is charged with possessing and distributing child pornography
  • Agents find 500,000 to 1 million videos and images on devices in his Florida apartment
  • Pieces of children's clothing were also found in Shearen's apartment in Leesburg

(CNN) -- A 51-year-old man had between 500,000 and 1 million full-length child pornography videos and images inside his central Florida apartment, said authorities, who accused him of downloading and sharing the illicit materials.

John Edward Shearen of Leesburg, Florida, was arrested Thursday on 15 counts of possession of child pornography and 15 counts of distribution of child pornography, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced.

He was later booked, without bond, into Lake County Jail.

His arrest came after FDLE agents executed a search warrant at his residence in Leesburg's Lakeside Pointe apartment complex, about 45 miles northwest of Orlando. They found the illicit videos and images on computers and "mass media storage devices," the state agency said.

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Steve Arthur, an FDLE spokesman, said pieces of children's clothing were also found inside the apartment.

Asked what Shearen would have done with the clothes, FDLE Special Agent Jeff Duncan told CNN affiliate WFTV, "He (told us) that he utilizes them himself, but it's virtually impossible."

According to Arthur, more videos and images were found in Thursday's raid than in any other in state history.

Donna Rice-Hughes, an Internet safety advocate, said it's hard to tell definitively how the Leesburg discovery compares to others around Florida, the United States and the world, noting that child porn is alarmingly and sometimes easily viewed and shared online.

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Every time an image or video is seen, the child featured in it is victimized once again, she stressed. On the other side, a law enforcement initiative like Thursday's in Florida gives authorities more clues to track down those who produce the videos and images.

"Pedophiles trade porn for other child porn. They often times barter or sell it," said Rice-Hughes, president of the advocacy group Enough is Enough.

"Taking someone out of the market is important, because it's another person who may be a former or current predator."

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