7 Arrests In Undercover Online Child Predator Sting

By on October 15, 2018 in WNDB News

Daytona Beach, FL – A four-day undercover operation targeting online child predators nets seven arrests in Volusia, including a man who was once a youth camp counselor.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests today (October 15th) as part of Operation Unlawful Attraction, a joint effort with law enforcement agencies across the Central Florida region as well as federal and state law enforcement agencies under the umbrella of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood says the detectives who ran the operation made contact with over 50 people between Wednesday (October 10th) and Sunday (October 14th), all of whom were under the impression that they were chatting online and meeting with a 14-year-old girl to engage in some kind of sexual activity.

“In some cases, [these suspects sent] explicit pictures of their body parts to the undercover officers,” Chitwood added.

A similar sting from VCSO in 2016 netted 14 arrests, but this time around, detectives set up meetings with these suspects in public areas all across Volusia, mostly gas stations.

Body cam video of the arrests were made public by VCSO, including of a man – 34-year-old James W. Bowen – who owns Bob’s Barber Shop in Gainesville. During the press conference, Chitwood admitted this was his “favorite” of the arrested, partly because he was wearing a T-shirt which read “I Would Cuddle You So Much Harder” at the time he went into custody.

“His story to the arresting officers was, he knew that this was a set-up and he wanted to come down and watch it,” Chitwood added. “Little did he know that he would be getting pulled out of the car, thrown to the ground and handcuffed.”

Another one of the seven arrested – 43-year-old George G. Wallace of South Daytona – had made it onto local law enforcement’s radar in a similar sting two years ago, per Chitwood, but he wasn’t arrested at the time because he never showed up at the meeting he had agreed to online.

“He also bragged that he had recently had sex with a 15-year-old at the time of his arrest,” Chitwood said of Wallace, who works as a nurse for Comfort Keepers.

A third man who was arrested – 22-year-old Jonathan W. Hayes of Eustis – was once a youth camp counselor with the Florida Elks but was currently working for them in maintenance. According to detectives, he admitted to undercovers online that he had once had sex with a 16-year-old girl, going into graphic detail about that encounter.

All three men are facing charges of using a computer to seduce/solicit/lure a child, traveling to seduce/solicit/lure a child, attempted lewd & lascivious battery and using a two-way device to commit a felony.

The other four arrested – 31-year-old Ryan Kirk of New Smyrna Beach, 49-year-old Jorge A. Cruz of DeBary, 25-year-old Jonathan Harden of Sanford and 28-year-old Ronald J. Foley of Daytona Beach – all face the same charges.

VCSO documents show Harden worked at Orlando Health at the time of his arrest, while Foley was self-employed as a pressure washer and Cruz was a mechanic. Kirk was unemployed.

As of 4:30 p.m. today, Bowen and Harden are free on bond from Volusia County Jail. Bowen, Foley and Cruz are under $40,000 bond, while Wallace is under a $30,000 bond and Kirk’s bond is $20,000.

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