Tallahassee, FL — A broad net cast in North Florida by law enforcement officials to catch child predators landed a dozen men — a retired U.S. Army colonel, a high-ranking Florida State University attorney, and the page and messenger manager for the Florida House of Representatives, among others — who were attempting to meet up with young girls.
As part of a major sting, twelve men — ranging from 21 to 70 years of age — were arrested by authorities after they made contact through emails, texts, chat rooms, and Internet ads, with undercover officers pretending to be teen girls.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the Crimes Against Children Task Force — run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in cooperation with other agencies — performed the operation.
“If you prey on our children, we will find you and arrest you,” asserted FDLE special agent in charge of the Tallahassee Regional Operations Center, Mark Perez.
In this state-run version of To Catch a Predator, authorities lured in the potential sex offenders by pretending to be females. Investigators in the operation, named Cupid’s Arrow, chatted with countless men online. However, only the sickos stayed around once the investigators, acting as the girls, told them they were just children.
“While most adults online immediately stopped communicating with these investigators,” Perez said. “Once they believed they were children, the 12 suspects arrested during the operation only became more interested.”
One of those 12 men arrested was William Hall, the former clinical director of the Indian Health Services unit in Colville, Washington. Hall, once a prominent physician, retired in 2013 after he was accused of making unwanted advances on several of his female patients. Hall, who is 64, thought he was going to meet a 14-year-old girl by the name of Sara.
Also caught up in this dragnet of child predators was Michael Chmielewski, who, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, was the manager of the Florida House of Representatives page and messenger program who oversaw hundreds of teenagers each legislative session since he was hired in 2012.
Dayton Cramer, 70, was the associate general counsel for Florida State University. He was also a colonel in the US Army. He has since resigned from his position after the arrest.
According to News4, investigators said all suspects believed that they were speaking with children or parents of children under the age of 15, and all arranged to meet children for sex, authorities said.
Doreen Ann Agostino
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