(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
A multi-county, multi-department child sex sting operation held over an eight-hour period on Tuesday, Oct. 13 has resulted in the arrests of three Shiawassee County men – with a fourth one likely to face arrest soon. The Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office, working with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, along with municipal police departments such as Owosso and Perry, participated in the operation. The three men arrested include a 32-year-old Elsie male who was also a corrections officer, an 18-year-old male from Westphalia and a 45-year-old male from Corunna. These three individuals, seeking sex with children between the ages of 13 and 18, took the bait offered by undercover officers via social media sites, agreed to meet at a local hotel and were summarily arrested. The fourth individual chatted online about having sex with a 12-year-old and the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office is confident they have enough evidence to pursue a case against this person, as well. The men will be arraigned and specific charges and details will be made public early next week.
On hand during a media event held Thursday afternoon, Oct. 15 in Corunna were Sheriff Brian BeGole, Detective Lt. Scott Shank, Perry Police Chief Kyle Boggs, Owosso Police Chief Kevin Lenkart, Chris Hanson (Investigator and “To Catch a Predator” host) and Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson. Shiawassee County Prosecutor Scott Koerner was in attendance, as well.
BeGole, Koerner and Swanson all hit on the message that pedophiles are not welcome in Shiawassee County. Koerner stated, “We want to send a strong message to these predators … we will not tolerate their presence. They will be caught. They will be brought to justice.”
Swanson has been instrumental in a number of GHOST (Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team) sting operations in Genesee County, and was pleased to help Shiawassee County with needed resources and experience.
In the course of the Tuesday investigation, over 170 people talked with the undercover officers via social media. The investigation took roughly a month to organize. Future Shiawassee County sting operations are planned.