Publicly, Josh Shea was a city councilor, magazine publisher, and co-founder of a popular film festival in Auburn, Maine. But privately, he was struggling with alcohol and pornography addiction. In 2014, that addiction led to his high-profile arrest.
"I’m not a victim. I deserved to go to jail," said Shea.
He admits to downloading folders of pornographic images that contained images of minors. At the center of the criminal investigation was a recording he made of a teenager performing a sex act on a web camera. Shea said he didn’t know her age. It turns out she was 14.
"As long as they looked old enough to me, that was enough," he said. "That’s how sick I was."
In 2014, the habit he had tried to hide became front-page news. Shea was arrested and charged. The man who was once given a key to the city was locked behind bars for six months.
"I did a horrible, heinous thing," said Shea. "There are a lot of victims behind me, and hopefully I can do some good with what happened."
From his jail cell, he wrote a memoir about his downfall. In the book "The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About," Shea describes the start of his pornography addiction, and how it spiraled out of control as his alcoholism increased and mental health degraded.
He says his arrest may have saved his life.
"I'm so grateful for the police showing up at my door because I sit here today happier and healthier than I ever have been in my life and that's a miracle,"said Shea.
Getting to this place has taken years of therapy. In his research, he has come to understand how widespread pornography consumption and addiction has become. According to one national survey, 1 in 3 men between the ages of 18 and 30 say they may be addicted to porn.
But treatment, especially compared to other addictions, can be hard to come by.
"In Maine, for instance, there are five meetings of Sex Addicts Anonymous in a week," he said. "In Portland, there are probably 25 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in a day."
Shea hopes his story can shed some light on the problem and need for more resources. Maybe, he says, it can prevent someone else from going down the same path.
"That's part of the reason for the book, is to say, 'You're not alone and there is help out there.'"
Shea’s memoir is now available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.