17 nabbed in South Carolina child sex sting

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina authorities have arrested 17 men in an online child sex sting, and an 18th is being sought after he sent messages to law enforcement officers who were posing as children on social media platforms.

Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon told WOLO that his office partnered with the Lexington Police Department as well as the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office to execute the monthlong operation that targeted adults contacting children for sexual activity. More than one dozen law enforcement agencies participated in the sting.

>> Read more trending news

“Officers pretended to be underage teenagers as the suspects messaged them through apps. Some even had phone conversations with officers. After the suspect asked to meet with ‘the child,’ detectives were staged at a predetermined meeting spot to arrest them,” Koon told the TV station.

Koon confirmed to WBTW that most of the messages sent by the men contained sexually explicit content. The suspects range in age from 21 to 74.

“The intent of these suspects during these communications is clear,” Koon told WOLO. “They were trying to persuade, entice or coerce someone they reasonably believed to be under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity.”

Authorities identified the following individuals arrested and charged in connection with the operation:

  • William Banks, 51, of Liberty, South Carolina: Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted dissemination obscene material to a person under 18.
  • Steven Bradley, 42, of West Columbia, South Carolina: Two counts of attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor and unlawful carry of a handgun.
  • Darrin Bray, 40, of Greenville, Illinois: Attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18 and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • Kevin Carpenter, 26, of Evergreen, North Carolina: Attempted dissemination obscene material to a person under 18, criminal solicitation of a minor and attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Brian Cates, 54, of North Augusta, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor and attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18.
  • Geoffrey Dudding, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina: Conspiracy to commit criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted promoting prostitution of a minor.
  • Mark Frick, 54, of Gaston, South Carolina: Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor and criminal solicitation of a minor.
  • Keair Fuewell, 23, of Gloverville, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor and attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18.
  • Landon Gibson, 40, of Simpsonville, South Carolina: Three counts of attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18 and criminal solicitation of a minor.
  • Kane Hicks, 23, of Darlington, South Carolina: Attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • Walter Huggins, 45, of Camden, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18.
  • David Jones, 51, of Pelion, South Carolina: Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • Willie Manning, 57, of Winnsboro, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.
  • Joshua Paczowski, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina: Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor and criminal solicitation of a minor.
  • Misael Quezada, 31, of Blythewood, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor.
  • Eric Setterberg, 54, of Gadsden, South Carolina: Attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
  • Charles Templeton, 74, Gaston, South Carolina: Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18.

Officials also confirmed that more arrests are expected against additional suspects identified during the course of the investigation, WBTW reported.

Meanwhile, Koon told WOLO that no children were used or placed in danger during the sting.

On Air99.5 KISS FM - KISS Rocks San Antonio Logo

mobile apps

Everything you love about kissrocks.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!