Judge could order Leesburg child porn suspect to pay for own attorney



LEESBURG, Fla. - A man who the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said downloaded the most child pornography in the state of Florida was denied bail Friday morning.

Officers said John Shearen had more than 500,000 images and videos at his home in Leesburg.

He was arrested Thursday, on his 51st birthday, at his home in the Lakeside Pointe apartment complex, FDLE said.

Agents said they identified Shearen last month while monitoring child porn websites, and they caught him at his computer Thursday morning as he was downloading more videos.

WFTV found that Shearen has been assigned a public defender, but the judge said that decision will be re-evaluated because of Shearen's income.

Shearen gets $1,500 a month from his Navy pension and retirement, and he owns a car, which the judge said he could sell to pay for a private attorney.

FDLE said it found thousands of child porn videos and images on his computer, and also found children's underwear in the home, which Shearen told agents he wears.

"We were able to seize anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million images and videos. They were stored on several computers and external hard drives to actually being transferred from the computers to separate DVDs, and he has a DVD collection of child pornography. So, we have a lot of work to do. Those initial cases will be charged today," said Special Agent Jeff Duncan.

Agents said Shearen admitted his crimes.

Investigators plan to go door-to-door in the apartment complex to talk with parents to find out if Shearen had any contact with their children.

Parents said they were shocked and disgusted about what happened Thursday.

Tenants living at Lakeside Pointe said they had no idea what Shearen was up to.

"Disgusting," said neighbor John Boyer. "Absolutely disgusting. I don't see how somebody can even look at that."

Shearen faces 20 counts each of distribution and possession of child porn, but agents said there may be more charges filed as the investigation continues.

"He is the No. 1 person who can distribute child pornography throughout the world," said Duncan. "And he's been doing it."

Shearen is scheduled to appear in felony court on April 29.