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. Continue reading