Two men in our area, expecting to meet underage girls they chatted with online, met the law instead.
63-year-old Douglas Shontz of Pooler and 24-year-old Kevin Horton of Springfield were arrested in an Effingham County Sheriff's Office sting operation. Investigators said both men tried to meet up with and have sex with a girl who they believed was underage. Both men are charged with criminal attempt to commit child molestation and have posted bond.
The Effingham County Sheriff's Office said Horton was a softball coach at the Effingham Co. Recreation and Parks Department and has been relieved of his duties.
The Effingham County Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is dedicated to patrolling the online world.
"In the beginning it kind of surprised me what people would say to what they believed to be a child," said Deputy Sheriff Joe Heath.
Some sexual messages intended for a young boy or girl online are actually going to Effingham County Deputy Sheriff Joe Heath.
"We will work cases where we are online being anywhere from a ten-year-old to a 13-year-old,"said Heath.
Deputy Heath goes online daily finding those who want to chat.
"We never ask them to do anything. We never give them the idea of doing anything, we are just simply responding to what they want us to do," said Heath.
Deputy Heath said for 24-year-old Kevin Horton that meant wanting to meet up with a young girl for sex.
"Part of the ad said age was not a factor for him, so then we gave him the opportunity to prove that, and he did," said Heath.
Horton didn't get too far when he showed up.
"He was fairly shocked when he was surrounded by deputies," said Heath.
Deputy Heath said after about 12 sting operations they've arrested around 30 people.
"I've had chat cases that have lasted as long as 20 minutes. I've had some [chat cases] that last as long as two years. You just never know how long it's going to take for them to build up the courage on that end," said Heath.
Deputy Heath said online predators come in all different ages and backgrounds and urges parents to monitor who their children are talking to online.
"I think they find children more easily to manipulate and persuade them to do what they want to do," said Heath.
This task force also partnered up in a multi-agency child sex sting operation in DeKalb County which netted 14 arrests. Operation Broken Heart resulted in an elementary school principal from west Georgia to get arrested.
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