Sharp and Ellison receive new court date

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By Susan Sharp

Two men accused of crimes against children now have March court dates.

On Monday Michael Sharp and Lonnie Ellison appeared in criminal court to determine the status of their cases.

Sharp’s and Ellison’s cases are not connected.

Ellison has been in jail since his arrest in July 2012.

His arrest came at the end of an eight-month investigation that involved the local district attorney’s office and the Internet Crimes Against Children (I.C.A.C.) office in Knoxville.

Last fall, the contents of a storage unit were auctioned after Ellison allegedly failed to pay the rent on the locker. The buyer began going through the items and reportedly found what was believed to be child pornography. That’s when the LaFollette Police were notified of the contents.

Inside the locker, kitchen-sized garbage bags and plastic bins contained photos of young, nude preadolescent girls, according to authorities.  Allegedly, video was also found.

When investigators interviewed Ellison about the contents of the storage locker, he denied a portion of the contents while accepting ownership of other items, police said.

Eventually a search warrant was served on Ellison at his home. Once inside the residence investigators allegedly found 12 computers and a number of jump drives, hard drives and digital cameras in the home. At least one of the computers was stored in the mud and brick basement of the home.

The computer equipment and cameras were sent to the I.C.A.C. in Knoxville for analysis.

I.C.A.C. was reportedly able to recover 15,000 images of child pornography. They estimate Ellison may have been in possession of more than 200,000 images.

Ellison was charged with rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery and 19 counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. He is charged with an additional 59 counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor because of the items found in the storage locker, and sexual exploitation of a minor due to the photos found in his home.

On Monday it was announced in court he was undergoing a mental health evaluation.

His next court date is set for March 25.

Sharp was indicted last year on two counts rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery and violation of the sexual offender registry. He stands accused sexually assaulting his then girlfriend’s daughter.

Living with a minor also violated the terms of the sexual offender registry.

When questioned by police about his residency, Sharp allegedly told LaFollette Police Officer Daniel Smith had been living with the minor and her mother despite having another address listed on the sexual offender registry.

In 2003 he was arrested and convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor.

He will also be back in court on March 25.