11 arrested in North Port child sex sting - WNCN: News, Weather

11 arrested in North Port child sex sting

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NORTH PORT, FL (WFLA) -

Eleven arrests were made as the result of the North Port Police Department's week-long child sex sting.

It was called "Operation Guardian Angel" and it was done in cooperation with law enforcement agencies from throughout the region.

The operation focused on predators that prowl for young children online. The suspects responded to internet based ads or social media posts; then they agreed to travel to North Port with the intent to have sex with a child under the age of 14. Once they arrived at the location, they were arrested.

Some of the arrests included a USF student, and Department of Corrections officer, and an Air Force veteran.

"We arrested some frightening and disturbing people during this operation, but we're convinced that we were successful in protecting our children from becoming future victims," North Port Police Chief Kevin Vespia said.

One of the suspects was 21-year-old Andrew Crose of North Port.

"I was stupid, I fell for a trap, it was a set up,” he said.

Crose said he went to an online chat room and met a girl claiming to be 18. They soon began having explicit conversations.

Soon they started talking on the phone. She then told him she was actually 14, but they arranged to meet anyway.

He argued, “I had no intent to actually have sex with her. I mean yes I did say on the phone sexual stuff, but in my head, no. If I want to have sex, I'll have sex with my girlfriend.”

He said he was trying to meet a new friend. He said, "My girlfriend was at work, I was just trying to hang out with someone at the time."

“I was just going to go down to make a new friend. I mean, what's wrong with having too many friends right now?” he questioned.

He says he did nothing wrong, and the sting was unjust. He hired an attorney to fight his charges.

“Why should the police be out there trying to fool who they are to get people? There are other ways to get out there and catch sex offenders and stuff,” he said. “I know I'm innocent. I wanted nothing sexually to do, and I just want my freedom back. I don't want to be no sexual offender. I'm innocent."

North Port police feel these suspects were willing to harm children, and it should serve as a warning to parents.

Chief Vespia said, "This is the real world we're living in. The fact of the matter is, this is going on, someone has to protect our children."

All of the suspects face a variety of serious charges, including attempted lewd and lascivious battery on a child.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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