Bail set at $760,000 for man accused of soliciting child sex in Hernando County

BROOKSVILLE — Adam Shepherd entered the courtroom Thursday with his head held high. But it didn't last long.

As the prosecutor began to summarize the allegations against him, his chin hit his chest.

"He talked to a woman (through) a phone sex line and made arrangements with her to come down from Jacksonville to Hernando County and have sex with her two children, one of which was 6 and one of which was 9."

People in the courtroom gasped. But Assistant State Attorney Lisa Herndon had much more to say.

"Once he came to the residence, law enforcement pulls up behind him. He rams the law enforcement vehicle and he flees at high speeds through Hernando County all the way into Pasco County."

She told the judge that Shepherd, 25, faced a maximum 185 years in prison. She described a similar incident that allegedly took place just six months prior. She called him a "dangerous person." And then, after nearly four minutes of buildup, she made her finale:

"The state is going to ask for a million dollar bond."

Shepherd's attorney, Maribeth Wetzel of St. Petersburg, objected, calling it "tantamount to no bond."

But Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing didn't balk. He set bail at $760,000 for 10 charges related to the sexual solicitation and high-speed chase.

"Obviously, these are very serious charges and he is facing a very long time in prison," he said.

According to arrest reports, the woman on the phone sex line worked with authorities to set up the sting. On Valentine's Day, Shepherd drove from Jacksonville to Spring Hill, thinking he was going to have sex with the two children.

In Shepherd's defense, Wetzel said the allegations sound more salacious than reality. She said he established a long-term phone relationship with the woman that included role-playing.

His grandmother, Virginia Jones, told the judge he would stay with her if he met his bond.

"From what I know from him, I can't imagine him hurting a child," she said, noting his brother is 6 and his son is 4.

His mother, Brenda Schultz, spoke next. She said she is trying to get him treatment for an apparent sex addiction. "I'm not saying I believe, or disbelieve, this, but something got us here," she said.

Shepherd's MySpace page is full of sexual references.

At the time of his arrest in February, his profile photo showed him grinning as he sat in the passenger seat of his truck. In the driver's seat was a female blow-up doll.

He listed his favorite pizza as "one with a hot girl on it." His favorite movies were "porn," favorite books were "dirty," and favorite hero was "John Holmes," the adult video star of the 1970s and '80s.

The day before his arrest, his mood was "under-stimulated."

Shepherd's profile stated he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville and worked as "high voltage electrical."

In a blog entry two years ago, he wrote that he loves women —that they are the most beautiful things on the earth — but wanted to know why they are all psycho.

His friends wrote comforting notes, saying he will find someone he loves — someone nice and normal. But they said he needed to "stop meeting chicks off the phone thingie" — meaning phone dating services.

He apparently didn't stop.

Times staff writer Erin Sullivan contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Bail set at $760,000 for man accused of soliciting child sex in Hernando County 04/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 7:59pm]

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