Pinellas News

132 sex sting arrests in Pinellas, other counties

A Disney Animal Kingdom employee was among 132 people arrested over four months in a multicounty operation targeting online predators who seek sex with children, the sheriffs of Polk and Pinellas counties announced.

Suspects were arrested on a variety of charges, with the most common being traveling to meet a minor and using an online service to lure/entice a minor, officials said. Other charges included narcotics offenses, active fugitive warrants and resisting arrest.

The suspects ranged in age from their 20s through 70s.

They came from “various walks of life,” including a postal worker, pizza deliverer, landscaper and a former law enforcement officer, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Christopher Thomas Stephens, 32, was arrested in Pinellas on charges of traveling to meet a 14-year-old and five counts of possession of child pornography, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said. The sheriff said Stephens planned to bring the boy to the condominium where he worked where they could be alone.

The Disney employee, 40-year-old Allen Treaster, of Polk, told investigators he fantasized about having sex with a 14 year-old boy and that this was not the first time he traveled to have sex with a child, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

“Florida’s sheriffs are committed to conducting these investigations to protect our children from sexual predators,” Judd said. “We are passionate about preventing child exploitation and holding those who prey on children accountable.”

Nine sheriff’s offices hosted operations and eight others contributed personnel and resources from March 19 to July 20, Gualtieri said. The host agencies were from Pinellas, Polk, Jacksonville, Seminole, Sarasota, Citrus, Volusia, Lee and Escambia counties.

The arrests were announced at a joint news conference Tuesday in Winter Haven with Gualtieri and Judd.

“In this day and age of technology our children are the most vulnerable, Gualtieri said. “Online predators are a top public safety issue across the state. We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to utilize every law enforcement resource we have at our disposal to protect our kids from these individuals.”

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