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Over 130 busted in Tampa Bay-area child sex sting

The arrested include an employee at Disney Animal Kingdom, a pizza man and a 71-year-old man who preferred his victims "diapers to 11 years old."
By Matt Bradwell   |   Aug. 5, 2014 at 4:34 PM   |   Comments

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TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- State, local and federal law enforcement agencies combined their efforts to bust over 130 suspected sex offenders in the Tampa Bay area as part of an online sex sting dubbed "Operation Cyber Vigilance."

The four-month sting targeted suspects from nine different Florida counties who sought to arrange sexual encounters with minors online.

"In this day and age of technology our children are the most vulnerable. Online predators are a top public safety issue across the state," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a statement.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to utilize every law enforcement resource we have at our disposal to protect our kids from these individuals."

Among the arrested are an employee at Disney Animal Kingdom, a pizza man and a 71-year-old man who allegedly preferred his victims "diapers to 11 years old."

Describing a stay-at-home dad busted in the sting, Gualtieri told myFox Tampa Bay, "So [mom]'s out there working -- trying to provide for the family. He's at home with a 13 and 14-year-old sleeping, and what's he do?"

"He gets online, and starts chatting with one of our undercover detectives. And he leaves his 13 and 14-year-old daughters at home sleeping in bed, and comes up to Pinellas County to have sex with a 12-year-old."

Although a number of the men have been cleared of charges Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says he believes it's still fair to classify them as "'sexual perverts" because "There is a difference between probable cause and 'beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt."

"And let me tell you one thing so there's no misunderstanding - when we arrest them as 'sexual perverts on children,' I'm going to call them 'sexual perverts on a child.' Because we have a very liberal -- a very forgiving -- criminal justice system, sometimes it's more difficult to prove 'beyond to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.'"
Follow @mckb26 and @UPI on Twitter.
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