A 32-year-old registered sex offender from Muscatine caught in a federal online sting in November 2020 trying to meet someone he thought was an underage boy for sex was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison during a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court, Rock Island.
During the hearing U.S. District Chief Judge Sara Darrow sentenced Nicholas Bryan Swank to 210 months in prison on each of the three counts to which he had pleaded guilty on July 8: attempted enticement of a minor, travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual activity and soliciting an obscene visual depiction of a minor. The sentences will run concurrently, or be served at the same time.
Darrow also sentenced Swank to serve the rest of his life on supervised release once his prison sentence is completed.
Swank was one of nine men caught in the sting. He is the fifth person to be sentenced to federal prison.
Swank was arrested by federal agents Nov. 13, 2020, shortly after 8:15 p.m. according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Rock Island. Swank had driven to the target residence in Rock Island after chatting with an undercover agent over the dating app Grindr. According to the criminal complaint, Swank thought the undercover agent was a 15-year-old boy.
Swank offered to pick the boy up and drive him back to Swank’s home in Muscatine to engage in sex. Swank was COVID positive at the time, according to the criminal complaint.
“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those who seek to sexually exploit children,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris said in a news release Friday. “These are serious crimes that inflict great harm on some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and they merit serious sentences. We also urge parents and guardians to remain vigilant and monitor their children’s online activities.”
Swank is on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. He was arrested by Muscatine Police on Feb. 27, 2013, after an investigation into the Aug. 30, 2012, sexual abuse of a boy under the age of 14. He was initially charged sexual abuse third-degree, a Class C felony under Iowa law that carries a prison sentence of 10 years.
On April 29, 2013, during a hearing in Muscatine County District Court, Swank pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor that carries a prison sentence of two years. Swank was sentenced to serve two years on supervised probation.
To read the status of the other eight cases, go to the Quad-City Times website for the online version of this story.
Charles Walter Christopher, 43, of West Liberty, Iowa, sentenced Dec. 15 to 22 years in federal prison.
Douglas L. Christensen, 56, of East Moline, sentenced Nov. 3 to 10 years in federal prison.
Michael Robert McKinney, of Silvis, sentenced July 20 to 12 years in federal prison.
Douglas Michael Speer, 31, of Johnston, Iowa, sentenced Oct. 20 to 11 years in federal prison.
Joseph Allen Wilcher, 40, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was found guilty by a federal jury Oct. 6 after a trial in U.S. District Court, Peoria. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court, Peoria.
Auston M. McLain, 36, of Davenport, was found competent to stand trial during a hearing Nov. 18 in U.S. District Court, Rock Island. U.S. District Chief Judge Sara Darrow set McLain’s jury trial for Feb. 14.
Jeffrey Alan Bosaw, who was 52 at the time of his arrest in November 2020, is awaiting a competency hearing.
Damien Pernell Shepherd of Moline, who was 35 at the time of his arrest, is charged with attempted enticement of a minor. His trial had been scheduled for Oct. 4 in U.S. District Court, Rock Island. His attorney, Federal Public Defender Thomas Patton, has filed a motion to suppress the statements that Shepherd made to agents in the case. Patton argues that Shepherd told authorities he wished to invoke his right to remain silent at the time he was arrested. However, authorities kept up a dialogue with Shepherd on other topics. Patton argues that Shepherd is intellectually disabled and was “manipulated” into using one of the officers' phones to call his mother, which the agents allegedly overheard and recorded to obtain evidence. Patton argues that the agents’ continued dialogue with Shepherd and alleged “sardonic remarks” about his refusing to speak with agents eventually broke the man’s will and he spoke with agents without an attorney present. U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow ordered federal prosecutors to respond to Patton’s motion by Oct. 25. In his response, Acting U.S. Attorney Douglas Quivey said that the “government concedes that it cannot carry its burden of proving that defendant’s (Shepherd’s) express waiver of Miranda rights in the third recording was made voluntarily, and thus, the government will not admit such statements in its case-in-chief.” However, Quivey did argue that the statements Shepherd made to his mother that were overheard and recorded are not protected by the Fifth Amendment because they were not made in response to any interrogation. Quivey argues that officers gave Shepherd the opportunity to make a call to his mother, but warned him that he would not have privacy. Shepherd told his mother that he was arrested because he was talking with a “young” guy online. Quivey argues that Shepherd was not coerced into making comments since his answers to his mother’s questions remained evasive. According to Quivey’s response, Shepherd “actively sought to avoid making incriminating statements when he responded to his mother’s questions about the boy’s age and the boy’s advertised profile information rather than what the boy told him.” A hearing on the motion to suppress is scheduled for Jan. 20 in U.S. District Court, Rock Island. A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 28.