Pennsylvania man argues entrapment in Aurora underage-prostitution sting
Lonely, sad and depressed, Shane Lewis wanted some company on a cold winter night in January 2015.
He sat in his rental car at his hotel near Downers Grove and, using a tip from another business traveler, visited backpage.com and answered an advertisement: "Hey, looking to get warm? -- 18."
With that, the Pennsylvania man came to the attention not of an escort, but of federal and Aurora police investigators who were trying that night to catch people willing to pay for sex with minors.
Lewis, 38, was the last witness at his trial Tuesday in Kane County. He is charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor; traveling to meet a minor; and grooming a child for sex. He faces 6 to 30 years in prison if convicted on the top charge.
Tuesday morning, prosecutors showed the jury several dozen text messages Lewis exchanged with a federal agent who was posing as a mother of two daughters. ages 14 and 15.
"Hey, my girls could use some warming up 2 ;)" was her first response.
Lewis asked why two girls when only one person was pictured in the ad. The agent said posting two pictures was risky.
"Haha. Well what's the 2 girl special? And do u serve downers grove?" Lewis replied.
When told their ages, he replied: "WTF Not interested in minors? R U crazy?" followed by "I'm 32. 18 is good but nothing under that. 2 risky," But they kept conversing, with him asking her if she was in law enforcement and why she was offering people under age 18 "when you know that's illegal." He asked to just contract with the mother and also asked how much it would cost to be with all three of them.
The mother wrote that the 14-year-old was shy, that he would have to be gentle, and that the mother would "kick your (butt)" if he was rough.
Lewis' attorney is arguing that Lewis was entrapped, induced to illegal action he normally wouldn't do. Lewis said he repeatedly and politely tried to divert the "mother" away from involving the daughters.
Lewis was a vice president of sales for a vacation timeshare company, and his work often took him to Downers Grove, he testified. He and his wife had been separated for six months. He cried as he testified Tuesday. Two friends and Lewis' sister testified he had never shown a sexual interest in underage girls.
"I honestly can't even believe it's me in that video," Lewis said of a video of him in the west-side Aurora hotel room agreeing to pay $200 for "porno sex" with the "daughters" and putting the money on the table. He said he was mad at himself, and ashamed.
But prosecutor Jodie Gleason got him to agree there were several opportunities for him to turn around and go back to Downers Grove, including when he stopped at a gasoline station to buy condoms. If lonely, why didn't he call those friends or his sister, she asked? If he was worried about it being illegal, why did he continue on? Why were the girls' looks important, if he was just going to go out to dinner with them? "It's bad character of judging somebody by their looks," he answered.
Closing arguments are Wednesday morning, and the jury will then deliberate.
The sting was part of a six-week operation in 2014 and 2015. Eight men were arrested.