|Via Osceola County Sheriff's Office|
Operation Red Cheeks was a weeklong, undercover operation led by the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, running from January 8-16, 2012. Undercover detectives posed as children, or as parents or guardians, to chat online with the suspects, who traveled to an arranged meeting location in Osceola County for sex with a child. During the chats, some of the suspects even reportedly sent pornographic images to the undercover detectives. Agencies involved in the sting included the Citrus, Lake, Orange, Sumter, Polk, Hardee and Manatee sheriff's offices and Ocoee, Kissimmee, Sanford, Orlando, Longwood and Casselberry police.
-- A group photo of all 40 men arrested is available HERE.
-- Individual photos with labels available HERE.
-- A full list of all the names of those arrested is available HERE.
Craig Alan Parsel, Jr., 25., lives in downtown Fairbanks and works as a warehouse clerk. He was on vacation in Florida with his family when he was arrested on Sunday January 15th. He's been charged with using a computer to seduce a parent or guardian to commit sexual acts on a child and attempted lewd and lascivious battery on a child, both felonies. On January 16th, Parsel posted bail of $5,150 on condition that be around any minors younger than 18 years old and not use the Internet outside of work and school while awaiting trial. Some commenters to the News-Miner think the bail is too low, but it may reflect the fact the Parsel's Alaska Court System database entry shows nothing in his past except for two speeding citations, in 2004 and 2007.
Update January 20th: Parsel reportedly corresponded with a detective pretending to be a 19-year-old girl on a social networking site and through email. He allegedly made plans to have sex with the supposed 19-year-old and her 14-year-old sister. He was arrested shortly after midnight on Sunday January 15th after showing up at the safe house with a new box of condoms. According to the charging document, he admitted the intent to have sex with both females.
The News-Miner published an engagement notice on a Craig Alan Parsel in May 2010; the picture is quite similar. This Parsel is identified as a graduate of North Pole High School in 2005 who subsequently attended the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Although the picture looks very similar, I cannot guarantee it is the same one. KTVA Channel 11 now has a news video:
Stories about some of the other accused are also of interest; it's astonishing what some of them brought to their meetings with their intended victims:
-- PGA golfer Stephen Wesley Thomas, 55, brought three condoms, two packages of chocolate pudding and a bottle of honey. It's obvious for what and for whom the condoms and the pudding were intended; I'm not sure I want to know what he was going to do with the honey.
-- Retired beekeeper Dell Rio Highsmith, 70, brought white wine, a heart-shaped box of chocolates and Viagra pills.
-- Bryan Allen Woodward, 29 and the head swim coach of the Gator Swim Club in Florida, was a bit of a cheapskate, bringing only M&Ms to his meeting. Particularly disturbing about this guy is the fact that he's worked with more than 200 children, most of whom were under 18. Floridians may hear more about this guy in the future; he could turn out to be another Sandusky.
Analysis: Some of these guys have already confessed. When one deliberately solicits contact with underage trade, and then shows up for a meeting bearing chocolates and Viagra, they aren't intending to present missionary discussions. Law enforcement is careful to inform these people during the internet contact that their intended paramours are underage. So when they show up, there's no need to wait until they unzip their trousers before arresting them. Underage victims warrant extra protection.