Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Orthodontist faces child pornography charges

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

KENT COUNTY—An orthodontist with an office in Plainwell is facing multiple felony charges stemming from allegations he solicited sexually explicit photos and videos from underage girls and was in possession of child pornography in digital storage.
Thomas Shannon, 41 of Byron Township, was arrested Thursday, Jan. 5, and arraigned the next afternoon on two counts each of four felonies.
Shannon, whose arraignment took place in 63rd District Court in Grand Rapids, faces the following charges:

  • Child Sexually Abusive Material – Aggravated Possession – 2 counts
  • Sexually Abusive Material – Possession – 2 counts
  • Computers – Using to Commit a Crime (10-20-year felony) – 2 counts
  • Computers – Using to Commit a Crime (4-10-year felony)- 2 counts
    In addition to his orthodontic office in Plainwell—which is located at 352 12th St.—Shannon also has an office in Grandville.
    Authorities began investigating Shannon in 2021. That’s when representatives from the Fuquay Varina Police Department in North Carolina contacted the Kent County Sheriff’s Office with information about Shannon contacting a 17-year-old girl in the area seeking nude images and videos.
    Shannon allegedly paid the girl $150 for the images. He later asked the girl for additional photos and videos, specifically from when she was in eighth and ninth grade, according to officials.
    During an interview, a detective from the KCSO asked Shannon if he recalled communicating with the in North Carolina via Snapchat approximately two years ago.
    “If it happened, obviously it’s all there and I have to fess up to it,” Shannon replied, according to a probable cause affidavit. “I didn’t know anything more about that, but some girls are on there soliciting.”
    According to affidavit, Shannon then hired a forensic investigator to examine his iPhone and iCloud accounts in an effort to prove they contained no child pornography. Instead, the investigator found what was described as “a large amount of child pornography” in Shannon’s data.
    Photos included images of children under the age of 10 naked and, in some cases, appearing to be engaged in sexual acts.
    Authorities say they discovered records dating back to 2019 that indicate Shannon had been communicating with and soliciting known minors online for sexually explicit photos and videos. In a few of those cases, Shannon attempt to arrange meetings with minors for the purpose of having sex with them, according to officials.
    Following Shannon’s arraignment, his lawyer, Frank Stanley, released the following statement:
    “My client begins the legal process with the presumption of innocence. He has cooperated fully with authorities in their investigation. We look forward to his day in court when these allegations can be addressed,” Stanley said.
    Later on Friday, employees from Shannon Orthodontics sent an email to its patients that said:
    “We were shocked and saddened to learn of the disturbing allegations against Dr. Shannon. Immediately following our receipt of the news, our offices closed for patients and staff. We will be cooperating fully with law enforcement as they continue their investigation.
    “Also, we are aware that many of you have been trying to contact us. We will start reaching out to all patients on Monday. We are partnering with several leading local orthodontists who are on hand to help and seamlessly transfer your care.
    We understand that these are extraordinary and unsettling circumstances for our community, and we will work diligently to transition your care as quickly and easily as we can.”
    While detectives have identified multiple victims, they say there is currently no information indicating any of those victims are from West Michigan.
    If you or someone you know may have been impacted, KCSO asks you to contact detectives at (616) 632-6125.

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