Ketchikan ex-mayor faces 80 new child porn charges

Shay now faces 80 additional charges.

Anchorage Daily NewsNovember 10, 2011 

One of Ketchikan's most prominent political leaders, already accused of possessing child pornography, now finds himself charged with 80 additional counts including one involving a homemade video featuring himself unclothed with a young girl, according to police.

John W. "Jack" Shay, 80, now is accused of 90 counts of possessing child pornography. He turned himself in to the Ketchikan jail Thursday afternoon.

Shay served as both city and Ketchikan Gateway Borough mayor, as well as on the school board, the city council and the borough Assembly. He worked more than 13 years for the state Department of Labor, including 3 1/2 years in the mid-1980s as a division director. On Monday, after the initial round of charges, he resigned his current elected position, a seat on the Ketchikan City Council.

Almost all of the new charges involve photos printed off the Internet and stored in boxes in his home office, said deputy police chief Josh Dossett. Some of the images involve adults attempting sex acts with infants and toddlers, according to the charges. In at least one, a little girl is duct-taped. Some photos were of young boys.

Police began investigating Shay on Nov. 4 after he brought his laptop to a Ketchikan computer shop for repair. He had been having trouble printing. The shop discovered that the items lined up in his printing queue were of child pornography, police have said. Police seized his laptop and printer and got search warrants for his home and home computer. They found the boxed photos during the search, Dossett said.

They also seized hundreds of videos including home movies but have only gone through only a small portion so far, Dossett said. Many of the home movies were the Hi8 format; some were VHS.

One of those seized videos contained a pornographic scene featuring Shay, the charges say. The camera showed what appeared to be a child's room. There was a poster on the wall to measure a child's height. A closet contained children's clothing as well as that for an adult man.

The charges say Shay stepped into the frame talking to a girl about getting dressed for the day. He looked maybe 10 years younger than his current age, though police haven't yet dated the video. The girl was somewhere between age 6 and 10, police say.

Shay took off his clothes and sat in front of the camera, according to the charges. At first the child was playing on the bed, out of the frame. Shay got the girl onto his lap and touched sexually her as she tried to squirm away, the charges say. The same tape also contains another home movie scene in which a man's hand can be seen touching a female child's genitals, the charges say.

The same tape also contains another home movie scene. In this one, the camera was placed between the sheets toward the pelvic area of a sleeping young girl, the charges say. There's a light source. A man's hand can be seen touching the child's genitals, the charges say.

Dossett said police are trying to identify and locate the girl. She could be grown by now. They also want to determine where the video was made. City police haven't charged Shay with sexual abuse of a minor or child exploitation because they don't yet know if the video was made in Ketchikan, Dossett said.

It seems like almost everyone in Ketchikan knows Shay as a community leader. People are having a hard time wrapping their minds around what he is accused of doing, the deputy chief said.

Shay's political life there spans decades, beginning with an appointment to the school board in 1972 and including two terms for both city and borough mayor, largely ceremonial positions. He's also active in community theater. He has a long-time girlfriend.

"Everybody's in disbelief," said Ketchikan Mayor Lew Williams.

The case has people talking.

"It's definitely big news in Ketchikan," Williams said.

Two detectives, two police officers, a lieutenant and a department computer expert all are working on the case, Dossett said. They are conducting interviews and trying to track down people who may know who the girl is and who could identify the pictured room. They are wading through hundreds of videos as well as material on Shay's computers.

The girl in the video and the children in the photos are all victims, Dossett said. Some of the pictured children already have been identified by law enforcement from pornography cases elsewhere.

As of Thursday evening, Shay was still being held in the Ketchikan Correctional Center on $100,000 bail, plus a requirement he be watched by a third-party custodian. His next court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

More charges could be filed, Dossett said.

"We've got a lot of work ahead of us."

Reach Lisa Demer at or 257-4390.

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