Local News


            A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a former Taylorville school bus driver, 43-year-old James Marshall Owens of Owaneco with two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of receiving child pornography.  The indictment, returned yesterday, also seeks criminal forfeiture of various computers and a telephone belonging to Owens.


            The indictment alleges that for each of the two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, Owens enticed individuals under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity for which a person could be charged with a criminal offense.  The indictment alleges that Owens committed the offenses from about Aug. 16, 2012, to May 23, 2013, and from about December 2012 to February 2013.  Further, the indictment alleges that Owens received child pornography on or about May 27, 2013.


            If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of sexual exploitation of a minor is a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison.  For receiving child pornography, the penalty is five to 20 years in prison.  The defendant may also be ordered to remain under supervised release for life following any term of imprisonment.


            The charges are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Illinois State Police, and the Christian County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris with the cooperation of the Christian County State’s Attorney’s Office. 


            Owens was previously charged in state court following his arrest in May 2013, and has remained in the custody of law enforcement since his arrest.  A date for Owens to make his initial appearance in federal court will be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court. 


This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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