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DOC officer arrested on child solicitation charges

DOC officer arrested on child solicitation charges


Wendell Shane Swinney

By Michael E. Palmer
Staff Writer

HAMILTON- What began as a note passed at a Hamilton fitness center has resulted in the arrest of an Alabama Department of Corrections officer for multiple electronic sex crimes involving a juvenile younger than 16.

Wendell Shane Swinney, 47, Hackleburg, was arrested on Thursday, June 13, at around 10:30 p.m. at Ivan K. Hill Recreational Park in Winfield. Swinney was charged with electronic solicitation of a child, traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act and transmitting obscene material to a child by computer.

According to information released by Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams, Swinney initiated contact with a male juvenile at a commercial gym in Hamilton by passing a note to the juvenile.

Williams said the juvenile informed his father about the note and the father contacted law enforcement.

Williams said the case was handed over to Winfield Police Department Investigator Lt. Rusty Hulsey due to his training in electronic crimes. Williams said sex crimes investigator Lt. Billy Pendley of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department also worked the case.

Hulsey confirmed that Swinney allegedly passed his cell number to the juvenile on a note that read “Text me cutie.”   

Williams said Swinney and the juvenile did not know one another prior to the note being passed and the two had no contact outside the fitness center.

Williams said the investigation was initiated after law enforcement texted the number provided on the note and Swinney was arrested later that same day.

“Swinney was texting what he thought to be a child under 16 but he was actually texting law enforcement officers,” Williams said. “Mr. Swinney used his cell phone to set up a meeting with the juvenile. He was texting him to perform sexual acts on the juvenile,” Williams said.

Williams said a meeting was arranged by law enforcement through the text messages.

“Swinney showed up to meet the young male victim, but instead he met law enforcement and was arrested on the spot,” Williams said.
Hulsey said Swinney was arrested without incident at the Winfield park that had been been placed on limited access to make sure the take-down went smoothly.

“We had officers staged throughout the park to make sure the park was clear and no other activities were going on,” Hulsey said. “We knew what time and he was going to be there and the vehicles he owned and what to be looking for.”

Hulsey said officers with the Hamilton and Winfield police departments and the MCSO were involved in the takedown.
“I praise all their efforts,” Williams said, “because this type of child predator has to be stopped and it’s a sad situation that he’s a department of corrections officer.”

Alabama Department of Corrections Public Information Specialist Samantha Banks said Swinney formerly worked at the Hamilton Community Based Work Release Center in Hamilton.

“In lieu of his arrest on Thursday, Lt. Swinney resigned his position with the Alabama Department of Corrections,” Banks said.

Hulsey said Swinney may have had contact with other juveniles.
“There is still an ongoing investigation with this subject and we have discovered through this investigation that there may have been contact with other underage males.

If anyone has any information, please contact me at 487-4333 or Lt. Billy Pendley with the Marion County sheriff’s office 921-7433,” Hulsey said.

Williams said Swinney is being held in the Marion County Jail in Hamilton on a $140,000 bond.

(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.)

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