St. Petersburg, FL (March 1, 2020) – According to an online news article posted on WFLA, law enforcement in St. Petersburg arrested and charged a St. Petersburg man in a child sex sting operation. According to the news report, law enforcement set up an underage child sex sting operation on an app called Skout. Police created a fictitious profile of a “14-year-old child,” and an undercover law enforcement agent used the app to pose as a minor child.
The news report states that the St. Petersburg man left his three minor children, all under the age of seven years of age, to meet the undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old-child. The man contacted who he thought was a 14-year-old child through the app Skout. The news report states that the man admitted that he sent sexually explicit messages through the app to who he thought was a 14-year-old child. The man discussed meeting the child, and he made arrangements through the Skout app to meet the minor child at a Holiday Inn hotel. Upon the man´s arrival at the hotel room, the man was met by undercover law enforcement agents and was arrested. It is unclear if any other individuals were arrested in this underage sex sting operation or not.
The St. Petersburg man has been charged with three criminal charges: unlawful use of a cellphone, traveling to meet a minor, and 4, 5, and 7-year-old child home alone while meeting the minor.
Police charged Berry with three counts of Child Neglect, Unlawful Use of a Cellphone, and Traveling to Meet a Minor for Unlawful Sex. No other information about whether the suspect has been released or if the St. Petersburg man will face additional charges at this time.
Florida Statute 847.0135(4) - Traveling to Meet a Minor for Unlawful Sex
According to Florida Statute 847.0135(4), the crime of Traveling to Meet a Minor for Unlawful Sex, it is a criminal act for an adult to travel any amount of distance to, from, or within the state lines of Florida, for the reason of meeting a minor child to have unlawful sexual conduct, following the use of an electronic device or online service or to solicit, seduce, entice, or lure the minor to interact in unlawful sexual activities.
The Penalties and Punishments for a ¨Traveling to Meet a Minor Charge in Florida
In the state of Florida, Traveling to Meet a Minor for Unlawful Sex is a second-degree felony. The penalties, if an individual is convicted of this charge, is a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The minimum prison sentence in Florida is 21 months.
One Situation May Result in Numerous Criminal Charges
In the state of Florida, there are several related sex crime offenses that may be filed against a suspect caught in an undercover sex sting operation. If an individual utilizes an online service, chat service, app, computer, cellphone, or any other internet-connected device, the individual could be charged with an additional criminal offense.