An Essex Jct. man pleaded not guilty to a felony charge Monday after police say he tried to lure an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old boy with the intent of engaging in sexual activity.
Edward Shannon was charged with attempting to lure a child with electronic communications for sexual exploitation after he responded to an ad posted by an agent with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The ad said a 14-year-old boy was alone for the night and “looking to make friends,” according to an affidavit signed by Morgan Lawton, an Essex Police Department detective assigned to the task force.
Shannon, 51, responded with a message describing himself as a 42-year-old and asked if the boy was interested in “meeting up with an older guy,” court documents show. He then asked for pictures and requested to meet and engage in sexual activities, specifically oral sex.
He agreed to meet the boy at a predetermined location in Chittenden County, where police then arrested him.
Shannon waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak to police, who say he admitted to responding to the post intent on “looking for a friend and someone to spend time with.”
Court documents show Shannon said he didn’t know the boy’s age because he wasn’t wearing his glasses and “could not clearly see messages referencing the individual’s age.”
Later in the interview, Shannon admitted he did know the boy’s age and that he intended to engage in sexual acts.
The Burlington Free Press reports eight other men were arrested in Chittenden County over the weekend as part of Vermont ICAC’s undercover operation.
A criminal record check shows Shannon was previously convicted for possession of marijuana in Massachusetts. He was transported to the Burlington Police Department where he was processed.
Shannon posted a $5,000 bond and was released on conditions stating he must not contact children 16 or under. He’s also barred from leaving the state, accessing or loitering in places where minors congregate, using the internet or possessing any device that allows internet access.
A status conference was set for October 12. If convicted, Shannon faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.