Top Pentagon Official Who Oversaw Military School System Arrested in Georgia Human Trafficking Operation

Katabella Roberts
By Katabella Roberts
November 28, 2023US News
Top Pentagon Official Who Oversaw Military School System Arrested in Georgia Human Trafficking Operation
The Department of Defense seal at the Pentagon in Washington on Jan. 26, 2012. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

A top U.S. Department of Defense official has reportedly been arrested following a two-day human trafficking sting conducted in Coweta County, Georgia.

Stephen Hovanic, 64, of Sharpsburg was arrested on Nov. 16—on the last day of the two-day operation—and charged with pandering, which is paying for or attempting to pay for sex and is a misdemeanor in the state of Georgia, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Mr. Hovanic worked as the former chief of staff for the Americas division of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), formerly known as the Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, the publication reported.

The senior Pentagon official was among the 26 suspects in total who were arrested during the sting, according to the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, which assisted the neighboring Coweta County Sheriff’s Office with the human trafficking operation.

Approximately 12 others were charged with prostitution, 10 were charged with pandering, and four were charged with pimping, officials said.

Three of the individuals arrested are currently under investigation for human trafficking and drug charges, according to the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement officials were able to rescue six victims of human trafficking in total during the two-day operation and move them to safety, the sheriff’s office said.

Mr. Hovanic worked as chief of staff for DoDEA Americas since October 2010, according to the Newnan Times-Herald, which cited a biography for the senior official on the DoDEA’s website.

That biography has since been removed.

According to its website, the DoDEA is “one of only two Federally-operated school systems” that is “responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD).”

The DoDEA operates 160 accredited schools in eight districts located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. DoDEA employs approximately 15,000 employees who serve nearly 70,000 children of active duty military and DoD civilian families, according to the website.

Suspect Placed on Leave

“DoDEA is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a world-class education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or career success and to be leading contributors in their communities as well as in our 21st century globalized society,” the website states.

A LinkedIn profile under Mr. Hovanic’s name lists him as having worked as chief of staff at the DoDEA since 2010. Prior to his latest position, Mr. Hovanic also worked as the principal at Quantico Middle-High School and Dahlgren Unit School, according to his profile.

He also spent over 14 years working in the Virginia public school system.

A booking photo of Mr. Hovanic, released by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, shows a man who resembles the individual listed on the LinkedIn profile.

A spokesperson for the DoDEA told the Daily Caller in a statement that it is “aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas Region.”

“As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time. Any questions regarding the incident should be directed to the local law enforcement agency involved,” the spokesperson said.

A DoDEA spokesperson also told the Newnan Times-Herald that Mr. Hovanic was currently on leave.

Sgt. Toby Nix with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office told the publication that the victims found during the sting were taken to an undisclosed “safe house,” where they will receive help to “move forward from the heinous crime of human trafficking.”

“All females contacted in this operation were offered the same assistance with some refusing any aid,” he said. “Pandering is not a victimless crime, as the demand for prostitution drives the sex trafficking market.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the DoDEA for further comment.

From The Epoch Times

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