EIGHT ARRESTED FOR SOLICITING A CHILD FOR SEX DURING OPERATION “PALADIN’S SHIELD” IN WALTON COUNTY

Meade ArrestFor Immediate Release

March 5, 2018

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— A five-day operation leads to the arrest of eight men for soliciting a child for sex including a registered sex offender out of Escambia County.

By monitoring smartphone apps and online ads an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force went hunting for sexual offenders in our area.

“We are going to rid our community of these animals one-by-one,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

The operation was conducted at an undisclosed location in Walton County for a five day period ending Sunday. The following is a list of those arrested:

PateRichard Augustus Pate, 67, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida – responded to an online advertisement on Grindr. During the conversation between Richard Augustus Pate and the undercover officer, posing as the 14-year-old male, Richard Augustus Pate did solicit to engage in sexual activities with the 14-year-old male. On Wednesday, February 28th Pate traveled from Walnut Street to engage in sexual activity with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old male. Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.   

Meade

Keith Christophe Meade, 30, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – responded to an online advertisement on Grindr. Meade engaged in conversation through the app and through text message with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old boy. Friday, Meade traveled from his hotel room in Destin to pick up who he thought was a 14-year-old child to engage in sexual activity. Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.

DugasChad Dugas, 18, Fort Walton Beach, Florida – responded to an online advertisement on Grindr. Dugas engaged in conversation through the app and then continued on “Snapchat” and through text messages with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old male. Dugas traveled to a location to pick up who he believed to be a 14-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity. Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.

GibsonJame Nicholas Gibson, 27, Pensacola, Florida – responded to an online advertisement posted to subjects seeking to solicit sexual activities with underage children. Gibson replied to the ad and began a conversation an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old child. During the conversation, Gibson asked for a photo of her breasts. Gibson traveled to a location in Walton County to meet with who he believed was a 14-year-old girl. Investigators then confirmed Gibson was a registered sex offender. Before he could be apprehended at the “meet spot” Gibson fled and a pursuit was initiated. Gibson drove in excess of 100 miles an hour on Highway 30a to avoid capture before crashing into the bay at the end of 395 and fleeing on foot. Gibson was apprehended the following morning by WCSO in the area of the crash. Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony, fleeing and eluding.

Car in the Bay 2

Lewis

Timothy Keith Lewis, 20, Milton, Florida – responded to an online advertisement posted on Whisper. Lewis engaged in conversation with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old female. Lewis traveled from his home in Milton to a specified location to engage in sexual activity with a person he believed to be 14 years-of-age.  Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.

 

Trenton Patrick Hooks, 32, Milton, Florida – responded to an online advertisement on Craigslist. Hooks engaged in conversation with an undercover investigator through email then switched to text messages. HooksThe undercover officer was posing as a mother wanting someone to have sex with her 13-year-old female daughter. Once he learned the age of the daughter, Hooks sent a photo of his genitals to the undercover officer. On Sunday, Hooks traveled from his home in Milton, bought lubrication while en route to a specified location to engage in sexual activity with a child he believed to be 13-years-old. Charges: Using a computer to solicit a parent or guardian to engage in sexual activity with a minor, transmitting harmful material to a minor, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.

BanninThomas Bannin, 36, Fort Walton Beach, Florida – responded to an online advertisement posted on Craigslist. The conversation between Bannin and the undercover officer switched from email to text message. Bannin did solicit to engage in sexual activities with who he believed to be a 14-year-old female. During the conversations, Bannin asked the undercover officer if she wanted a picture of his genitals and then sent the photo. On March 4th, Bannin traveled from his home in Fort Walton Beach to engage in sexual activity with a 14-year-old child. Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, transmitting harmful material to a minor, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.   

 

 

SpenceCharles Spence, 33, Valparaiso, Florida – responded to an online advertisement posted on Craigslist. The conversation between Spence and an undercover officer switched from email to text message. During the conversation with the undercover officer, Spence solicited to engage in sexual activity with a child he believed to be a 14-year-old female. On March 4th, Spence traveled from his home in Okaloosa County to a location disclosed to him by the undercover officer and was taken into custody.  Charges: Using a computer to seduce a child, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a communication device in the commission of a felony.

“These people are the worst of the worst,” said Sheriff Adkinson. “We cannot encourage parents enough to be aware of the applications and websites their kids are using.”

Walton County Sheriff’s Office hosted the operation with help of area agencies including Panama City Beach Police, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Pensacola Police Department, Gulf Breeze Police Department and other Florida agencies including Gainesville Police Department, Tallahassee Police Department, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“The success of this operation is a direct result of the passion, hard work, and dedication of the men and women who work internet crimes against children,” added Adkinson.

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