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Alaska: Juvenile Justice Official Sentenced for Possession of Child Pornography

by Kevin Bliss

David Weston, Jr., 55, was one of several Anchorage officials with authority over juvenile offenders who have been charged with possession of child pornography.

A sting operation in 2017 had an undercover FBI agent post an advertisement on Craigslist looking for a babysitter for his 10-year-old daughter to help her “get some energy out,” the same language used in online child exploitation solicitations. Weston answered the ad and the two spoke for almost a year concerning the fictitious child, “Becky.” At one point the FBI agent asked Weston if he had done this before, to which he replied it “was not unfamiliar territory.”

The conversations were sufficient for the FBI to obtain a search warrant for Weston’s computer. They found he used an identity-obscuring browser to search the “dark web” for images of young girls and had 22 images of child pornography, including some of prepubescent girls. He was charged in October 2018, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and was sentenced on December 23, 2019 to four years in federal prison.

Weston began as a youth counselor for Alaska’s Juvenile Justice System in 1992. He eventually became superintendent of the Johnson Youth Center and later the McLaughlin Youth Facility. He was then promoted to operations manager for the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice.

When questioned about whether Weston’s career would be analyzed due to the charges and the nature of his work, the Department of Health and Social Services responded, “DHSS is not aware of any allegations made by current or former [Division of Juvenile Justice] youth against Mr. Weston.”

A second juvenile justice official, social worker and clinical therapist Shannon Robert Bell, 53, was indicted on September 30, 2019 on charges of possession of child pornography. He is known for his work with young male sexual assault victims. Bell was arrested as part of a national law enforcement operation called Project Safe Childhood. 



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