Forty men and one woman, including a youth football coach and a law enforcement academy graduate, were slapped with a slew of sex crimes charges following the largest undercover Internet child sex sting in Polk County history.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, some of the suspects, ranging in age from 18 to 65, traveled from as far as Wisconsin and Alabama to meet minors they allegedly intended to have sex with. Just 13 of the 41 detained were from Polk County, where the operation was performed between June 8 and June 15.
A statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office highlights that along with the youth football coach and a law enforcement academy graduate, an electrician, a student, an insurance salesman, a bank teller, a handyman, an AV technician, a file clerk, a painter, mechanics, theme park employees, an IT phone technician, laborers, a photo lab technician, a heavy machine operator, a tax preparer, a hospital accountant, a wall-paper installer and a senior partner in a CPA firm were also arrested for attempting to have sex with a child. The 40 men and one woman were all booked into the Polk County Jail.
According to police, 11 suspects admitted they were married. Additionally, 16 apparently had condoms on their person when they were arrested.
The suspects face a combined total of 180 charges including such charges as attempted lewd battery, traveling to meet a minor, drug possession, transmission of harmful material to a minor, procuring a minor for prostitution and resisting arrest without violence.
Sex crimes charges involving the online solicitation of a minor carry quite severe consequences in the state of Florida. Unfortunately, even if you are found innocent of such a sex crime, you may never be able to live down the harsh stigma of being an accused sex offender. A label like this can ruin your reputation among your family, friends and colleagues, and even tarnish your good standing within the community. Despite the fact that much of the information regarding undercover child sex stings is based upon what investigators and law enforcement agents have told the public, many times the public takes this information and jumps to hasty conclusions before the suspects involved get their chance to defend themselves against the accusations at trial.
Although no sexual acts with minors were committed, this case goes to show that the state of Florida has very strict laws regarding the online solicitation of minors. If convicted, the above suspects face very severe potential punishments. However, no matter what type of sex crime you have been charged with, obtaining the right legal counsel can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
If you have been arrested in an undercover child sex sting anywhere in the state of Florida, contact a Florida Internet Solicitation Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton online or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529. We can begin assisting you immediately, so do not delay.
The staff here are extremely friendly and willing to help you! Would work with them anytime and recommend to everyone! Lisa Wahlig
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