Florida Minister Charged With 500 Counts of Child Pornography Possession

Alan Cheung
By Alan Cheung
July 29, 2019US News
Florida Minister Charged With 500 Counts of Child Pornography Possession
Minister Charles Andrews. (Sarasota County Sheriff's Department via AP)

A 66-year-old church minister was charged for 500 counts of possessing child pornography in Englewood, Florida.

Charles Andrews, a preacher at the Osprey Church of Christ, was on the sex offender register due to a second-degree sex-abuse conviction that took place in Alabama, Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Andrews was accused of downloading child porn after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Yahoo notified the local authorities.

The national center discovered two emails that were used to download child porn, then traced the IP address to find the location, CBS 4 reported.

The two emails were reported to have been used to download 70 child porn images, Fox 13 reported.

When the investigators followed the lead, it led them to the 80 block of Lee Circle and Andrews himself.

On top of the child porn charges, Andrews was handed 3 charges for failing to meet the requirements of a sex offender.

His bond is over $5 million.

25 Arrested After Attempting to Meet Children for Sex

Sarasota County Police have been active in cracking down on child sex predators.

Not too long ago they arrested 25 men—who allegedly tried to meet children for sex—during a four-day undercover operation police said at a press conference on Friday, July 26.

Of the 25 men who were busted over July 17-20, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office observed that “their jobs run the gamut.” Among them were a U.S. Navy officer, an Uber driver, a salesman, and a handyman.

All were charged with “Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit a Sex Act” and “Traveling to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts.” Some of the men were given additional charges.

“What they all have in common though is access to the public and access to children. That is why we took them off the street,” the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said in a message that accompanied a video showing the instances where the men were being arrested.

“Watch this video and remember to have that tough conversation with your son or daughter tonight. One day they will thank you.”

On Twitter, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office shared an updated list of social media apps parents should know and caution their children about. Police had posted a list of nine apps last year and have since added five more apps to the list. The newly added apps are MeetMe, Grindr, Skout, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Badoo.

“Unfortunately, the internet allows for easy and anonymous access to children by strangers who are hiding behind a computer screen,” Sheriff Tom Knight said, according to a statement.

“The men arrested during this operation managed to blend into society and attempted to prey on children by developing a trust through promises to exploit them for sexual purposes.”

The arrests were a result of “Operation Intercept VI” as it is the sixth of its kind carried out by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

Catching the Alleged Sex Predators

Police were able to lure the men, who ranged in age from 19-65, by using internet-based ads, online apps, and social media sites. The men then engaged in “sexually explicit written and verbal conversations” with investigators who pretended to be children, before they turned up at a home where police awaited to arrest them.

One man who was arrested was enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a chief petty officer and was scheduled to deploy the following day. The man, Travis Deel, 39, had allegedly expected to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, according to police.

According to Fox 13 News, Deel was stationed at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville. He has since pleaded not guilty.

Another man was Georgios Bakomihalis, 27, of Wimauma, who after he was arrested told officers that he was registered as an Uber driver.

The others of the 25 men arrested held vocations as tradesmen, cooks, and salesmen, among others. Three had already committed sexual offenses, one was an illegal immigrant, another was in ICE custody, and another was found to have been violating his probation.

The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office also noted some other dangerous behavior the men exhibited.

“One of the suspects rode a three-wheel bicycle to the home while in possession of cocaine and another brought with him two firearms and several narcotics. One man attempted to lure the child into his vehicle while several sent [them] explicit photos and brought condoms with them,” police said in their statement.

“Ultimately all 25 arrestees traveled with the intent of having sex with a male or female child,” they pointed out.

Advice For Parents and Guardians

At the press conference on July 26, Knight said that police have no control over whether potential predators are using the social media apps to contact children, so “this is very important for parents, guardians, adults who have children to know what they’re looking at on their phones.

sarasota county sheriff's office1
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida shared an updated list of apps parents should know about to help prevent their children from landing in the arms of online sex predators, on July 26, 2019. (Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office via Twitter)

“We can arrest, but we can’t prevent,” he continued. “And my hope is of the six operations that it would be a form of prevention for these individuals to realize that going into Sarasota County there’s an opportunity to get arrested.

“But the best prevention for these children is the adults to know what’s on the phones.”

Knight said he hopes that parents and guardians will “be responsible to protect their children.”

Knight said at the press conference that he “doesn’t see this stopping” until there is adequate prevention and parents can see what’s on their children’s phones.

Epoch Times reporter Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.

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