A fireman working in Jacksonville has been arrested for solicitation of a child via computer and unlawful use of a two-way communication device out of St. Johns County. According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the man allegedly engaged in an online discussion with a child he was told was fourteen years-old. The discussion, according to the police, turned sexual, with the firefighter allegedly sending pictures of himself to the “girl”. A St. Johns County arrest warrant was issued and he was arrested shortly after.
This arrest was out of a sting called Operation Cruel Summer. Periodically, police departments all over Florida conduct online trolling operations and make several sex crime arrests. Local law enforcement will usually post an online profile on a website, such as Craigslist. The men will begin a chat with a detective posing as a child and the “child” will eventually reveal his or her age. Some of the men continue the conversation, whether via email, text or messaging. Some men will ask for pictures and send pictures of themselves. Some clothed and some not. Often times, the “child” will ask the men to meet up at a location, usually their house. This house has been procured by the police and is full of officers waiting to pounce on the suspect as soon as he comes to the door.
The charges that come out of these stings can vary, but the most common are what the firefighter has been charged with. Solicitation of a child via computer is a third degree felony and is considered a “sex” crime in Florida. If convicted, at a minimum, the man will be a sex offender for the rest of his life. Any person who uses a computer service to seduce, solicit lure a person believed to be a child to commit a sex act is guilty of this offense. The maximum time in prison for this St. Johns County sex case is five years. The other felony charged is unlawful use of a two-way communication device, which also is a third degree felony. Although punishable by the same amount of prison time, this is not considered a sex crime in Florida. Any person who uses a two-way communications device, such as email or text, to facilitate or further the commission of ANY felony commits this crime.