A Child Sex Sting in Polk County Has Netted Over 40 Arrests

A two-month investigation focusing on child sex offenders has led to the arrests of 42 individuals in Polk County, Florida. The investigation was dubbed Operation Child Guardian. The Polk County Sherriff’s Office, the Department of Corrections Office of Probation and Parole, and State Attorney Brian Haas conducted the investigation.

The 42 arrests include 18 arrested for promotion, possession, and distribution of child pornography, and 21 arrested for failing to comply with sex offender registration rules and/or for violating probation. Three others were arrested on other charges.

A total of 892 criminal charges were filed against the 42 suspects.

Detectives served search warrants on people suspected of child pornography offenses, and checked in on sex offenders and predators to ensure compliance with registration and probation requirements.

“During operations such as this one, we proactively look for suspects who prey upon children, either through the collection and distribution of child pornography, or through their noncompliance with sexual predator and offender registration rules,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, “including their evasive efforts to gain access to children through the Internet and social media.”

Some of the suspects had no prior criminal history, according to Sheriff Judd. Those arrested for child pornography ranged in age from 20 to 73. Those charged with failing to comply with sex offender or predator registration, or violation of probation charges, ranged in age from 23 to 81.

Suspects Violated Various Sexual Offender Registry Requirements 

Those registered as sexual offenders and predators must meet stringent requirements and abide by any rules related to their registration. For example, offenders must register twice a year, and predators must register four times a year. Those on the registry also must register vehicles, addresses, and more.

Some are not permitted access to the Internet, for example, while others may access the internet, but must register social media accounts, email addresses, and Internet applications. Some of the suspects apprehended in this operation failed to register such accounts.

Suspects Now Face Steep Penalties 

Possession or intentional viewing of child pornography is a third-degree felony. Child pornography charges bring up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, for each pornographic image or video. Those convicted also must register as a sex offender.

Failing to comply with requirements to register as a sexual offender or predator is also a third-degree felony.

If you or a loved one is facing charges for sex crimes, contact the lawyers at Goldman Wetzel for criminal defense. Call 727-828-3900.

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