17 MEN ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTING TO HAVE SEX WITH MINORS

JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF’S OFFICE ARRESTS 17 MEN FOR ATTEMPTING TO HAVE SEX WITH MINORS

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams held a press conference on September 4, 2018, to discuss the arrest of 17 men after running an online sting operation in which undercover detectives posed as minor children.  Sheriff Williams stated the operation was named “DUVAL,” an acronym for Disrupting Underage Virtual Abuse Locally.  The operation involved over a dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies. This is according to a news report.

As often happens in sting operations like “DUVAL,” a wide spectrum of individuals were arrested.  The men’s ages range from 19 to 67, and some lived locally in Jacksonville, while some traveled from out of State.  Sheriff Williams stated that one of the individuals charged is a convicted sexual offender.  The Sheriff also discussed certain suspects by name and stated “there may not be any fixing these people.”  Edward Stanley who is 60 years old and is stated to currently work for the Department of Defense in North Carolina as a victim advocate was one of the individuals arrested for traveling to meet a 14 year old girl for sex.  These cases are commonly referred to as “Travelers,” in the court system.

These sting operations typically include an overwhelming amount of evidence against the accused.  The conversation itself is normally very straight forward in which the undercover agents will clearly state that they are underage.  In this sting, the undercovers posed as 13-14 year old boys or girls.  The undercovers will log into dating websites such as OkCupid and begin conversations with the potential suspects online.  The online conversation itself will be evidence used against the accused.  Details such as what will happen when the meeting will occur, what to bring, and where to meet will all be discussed.  The accused next will arrive at a pre-determined meeting but will not meet with a minor, but however will be taken into custody by a takedown team.  Any items previously requested by the undercover that the accused brought to the pre-arranged meet will also be submitted into evidence.  These items will be used in a trial to show that not only did the accused agree to meet for sex, but also brought the requested items to show there is not mistake in the accused’s mind as to the reason for the meet.

Other things that will be considered by a jury is the distance a person travels to meet a minor.  Mohammed Malek traveled from Tallahassee, Florida.  Malek’s defense will have to explain why Malek happened to travel all the way from Tallahassee to Jacksonville and arrived at the exact location given by the undercover.  Other charges may arise out of the online conversation itself as often times the individuals seeking sex with a minor send nude photographs of themselves to the undercover agents.

Also what is important to note is that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office waits until the operation is ended to post any information regarding the arrests as to hopefully not tip off any future suspects about the sting.  The individuals charged will not even appear in the Jail Screen until after the press conference.

THE CHARGES

The charges the state of Florida will bring against the 17 accused in operation “DUVAL” are extremely severe.  The charges are governed by Florida State Statute 847, Obscenity.

TRAVELING TO MEET A MINOR, Florida State Statute 847.0135(4).—Any person who travels any distance either within this state, to this state, or from this state by any means, who attempts to do so, or who causes another to do so or to attempt to do so for the purpose of engaging in any illegal act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in other unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child after using a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to:

(a) Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, to engage in any illegal act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in other unlawful sexual conduct with a child; or

(b) Solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to solicit, lure, or entice a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child or a person believed to be a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in any act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in any sexual conduct, commits a felony of the second degree.

If any of the individuals in this operation are convicted of Traveling to Meet a Minor, they will face an adjudication of guilt (convicted felon), up to 15 years in Florida State Prison, and register as a sex offender or possibly as a sexual predator for the rest of their life.

CERTAIN USES OF COMPUTER SERVICES OR DEVICES PROHIBITED. Florida State Statute 847.0135—Any person who knowingly uses a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to:

(a) Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, to commit any illegal act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child; or

(b) Solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to solicit, lure, or entice a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child or a person believed to be a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in any act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in any sexual conduct, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Any person who, in violating this subsection, misrepresents his or her age, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Each separate use of a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission wherein an offense described in this section is committed may be charged as a separate offense.

The Florida State Legislature passed this law to be able to go after the individuals who may seek out a minor using a computer, smart phone, or other electronic device to seek a minor, yet not even travel to meet with a minor.  If convicted, an individual can face up to five years in Florida State Prison.

Have You Been Charged with a Serious Criminal Offense or Sex Crime in Florida?   

Please give the Forbess Law Firm, 904-634-0900, a call for a free consultation.   Our firm, as well as most other established North Florida criminal defense attorneys,  handles sex crimes  including Traveling to Meet a Minor, Sexual Battery, Kidnapping, Lewd and Lascivious Battery or Molestation, Possession of Child Pornography, and Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor, on a daily basis in Duval (Jacksonville), Nassau, Clay, Baker, St. Johns, Bradford, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam  and other surrounding counties.  Further, upon the arrest of yourself or a loved one, our law firm is always available to argue for a reasonable bond in First Appearance Court or a Motion to Reduce Bond on an outstanding warrant.  Our office is conveniently located within two blocks of the Duval County Jail.  Also we can travel to you or your family for a free consultation.  We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to represent you and your loved ones.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/sheriff-williams-announces-busts-in-sexting-sting