Laura Jean Shoulders is living proof that there’s no such thing as being too choosy when it comes to selecting babysitters — especially for a one-year-old toddler. Because of the sickening things she did with the child in her care, the 47-year-old Shoulders will now be going to prison for 27 years with no possibility of parole.
Law enforcement authorities say that Laura Jean Shoulders of Burns Flat, Oklahoma — a tiny town of just over 2,000 — met a man online through a Craigslist personal ad sometime in the summer of 2012. As so often happens with online relationships, the participants felt free to indulge in fantasy behavior that they never would in their real, non-virtual lives.
At least, one hopes they never would.
Shoulders and her online male friend soon began sending text messages to one another, and the content of those messages quickly became sexual in nature. As the virtual relationship continued, the “sexting” messages grew more and more explicit.
At some point in early 2013, the conversation between Laura Jean Shoulders and her male correspondent took on a darker tone, expressing interest not just in sexual acts with each other or with other adults, but with children as well. But merely sending text messages about child pornography wasn’t enough.
Laura Jean Shoulders felt compelled not just to talk about child porn, but to produce it. And in the process, she apparently sexually abused the one-year-old girl she was charged with babysitting.
Shoulders used her iPhone to make video recordings of herself performing sexual acts with the one-year-old girl. Prosecutors charged her with producing three such videos in April of 2013 — then sending them to her Craigslist boyfriend. The man also shared the Laura Jean Shoulders child pornography videos with others on the internet.
Police caught up to Shoulders in December, when she was arrested and put behind bars. On February 26 of this year, she pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and last Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced her to 27 years in prison with no chance of parole.
Assuming she lives until the age of 74, she will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest if her life when she is released.
While it seems unusual for a woman to be convicted on child pornography charges, the case of Laura Jean Shoulders is not unique. In March, a well-to-do Dallas housewife and grandmother, Erika Perdue, 43, was hit with a 14-year sentence for downloading and sharing child pornography, which she had done on an almost daily basis for 13 years, according to court records.
Unlike Laura Jean Shoulders, however, Perdue was not charged with actually producing pornography involving children herself.