Undercover investigators with the Polk County Sheriff's Office have arrested a 52-year-old Auburndale man on a variety of computer-related sex charges.
Dennis Ray Steelman was booked into the Polk County Jail where he is being held without bond.
According to a Polk County Sheriff's Office report the arrest is the result of ‘Operation Cardea,' conducted in the Central Florida area in mid-January. The covert operation was hosted by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office and culminated with the arrest of 50 people.
On the day the arrests were announced – January 14th – Steelman was allegedly chatting online with an undercover detective. In the an e-mail conversation with a person Steelman thought was a woman offering her young niece for sex, the suspect arranged to travel to Davenport to meet the child.
When Steelman arrived on Thursday he was arrested without incident and transported to the jail. He is facing one count of traveling to meet a minor for sexual activity, one count of soliciting a guardian to engage in sexual activity with a minor, one count of using a communication device to commit a felony and one count of attempted sexual battery on a minor child.
"We have said for years that men who prey on children will stop at nothing to sexually abuse a child," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd of Steelman's arrest. "The very same day our partners on the task force publicized their successful apprehension of 50 suspects, Dennis Steelman continued his emails. This is simply unbelievable."
The suspect has one prior arrest in Polk County. In July 2005 deputies charged him with operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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