JOHNSON COUNTY, IND. — A multi-county child sex sting operation resulted in the arrest of 11 men, according to Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess.
Johnson County worked in partnership with the Franklin Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives set up fake profiles on sexual websites that depicted 14-year-olds. Police says adults would then chat with the fake underage profiles about sexual acts and fantasies.
“To see those chats, and to see that individual describe to the officers what they want to do,” Burgess said. “It turns your stomach.”
Police say it was made clear to the adults that the profile they were speaking with was a 14-year-old throughout the three-day investigation.
The 11 men ranged in age from 19 to 49. Four of the suspects came from Indianapolis, while others came from communities including Greentown, Bloomington, Unionville and Greenwood. At least one man drove more than two hours to meet up.
“They’re being pulled towards their sexual fantasy, and they think that they’re going to go live that fantasy out with a minor,” Burgess said. “Some of these folks will stop by a lingerie store, sex store, whatever, pick up items and bring with them.”
“I think it reiterates that they knew exactly what they were doing,” said Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Bland. “It’s something they were going after regardless of the circumstances, and they were willing to travel.”
According to the Sheriff, some of the men brought pornography and drugs, while one man brought a gun.
“What’s going to happen,” Burgess asked. “Are they wanting to take this child elsewhere? Are they wanting to abduct a child?”
All but one were charged with child solicitation, a sex crime. None of the individuals arrested in this three-day child sex sting were believed to be a part of any human trafficking organization.
Sheriff Burgess says this is Johnson County’s third child sex sting operation that has been conducted in the last two years. He says there will be more such operations because the threat is not going away.
“You have to work hard these days to protect your children from predators out there because they want to hurt your children, or they want to do some unthinkable things to your child,” Burgess said.
“Monitor your kids, monitor their online actives, monitor their friends, monitor what they’re going and what they’re saying,” Bland said.
-With additional reporting by Zach Myers