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Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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A week long undercover sex sting operation has resulted in the arrest of 79 people, including a high school girls’ basketball coach and a pastor. 

The sting was conducted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and called “Operation Takedown,” and launched to coincide with the past weekend’s WrestleMania 37 that was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The HCSO said that they believed the large even would yield a high number of people looking to take advantage of those in the Tampa community through human trafficking. 

Detectives created online profiles as part of the undercover operation to chat with men looking to engage in sex acts for money. They also had female detectives pose as prostitutes, according to reports. 

A 39-year-old pastor was arrested in the undercover operation. The Sheriff’s Office said that the man allegedly offered an undercover detective $25 for a sexual act after he took his children to their daycare. He is accused of reaching the deal with the undercover detective posing as a prostitute while his two kids were in the car with him. 

Another man, a 39-year-old assistant girls’ basketball coach, was arrested after allegedly answering an ad posted by the undercover officers. 

Both of the men are facing misdemeanor charges of soliciting another to commit prostitution. The pastor is facing two additional misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor due to the fact that his children were in the car with him when the alleged misconduct took place. 

The operation also resulted in two men being arrested on human trafficking charges. They were both arrested after allegedly responding to an escort ad to have sex with a 17-year-old girl. 

Another man, a 41-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested after he allegedly texted what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He is facing charges of transmitting harmful material to a minor and traveling to meet a minor after using a computer to solicit illegal acts, as well as other charges, according to the HCSO. 

Many people make the mistake of cruising the Internet for escorts and wind up involved in an undercover prostitution sting. The presence of web-based sex crimes has only increased police efforts to catch and prosecute those believed to be sexual predators. Police often use aggressive tactics to entrap innocent individuals with no criminal history into various situations that lead to their arrest. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how police operate in these undercover stings, and we can put our knowledge to work for your benefit. If you or someone you love has been accused of responding to an ad posted by an undercover detective, then let us help you fight these charges. We are familiar with how police and undercover agents use social media, the Internet, as well as text messages and online chats to illegally trap those that have never had any run-ins with the law before. 

If you are arrested in an undercover Internet sting operation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or any other agency, you can possibly face immediate consequences that can negatively impact your life. Your name and picture could appear online and show that you were arrested for solicitation or any other related charge. A public disclosure like this can tarnish your reputation in the community with friends and family as well as damage your job status. 

When police officers use undercover agents to lure unsuspecting individuals into soliciting sex acts, this opens the door to the very real possibility of entrapment or other illegal tactics made by law enforcement. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can review all of the evidence against you and identify any unlawful tactics used by police right away. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to use this as leverage to persuade the prosecution for a dismissal of the charges or a reduction of the charges against you. Every case is different, and while we can make no guarantees on the outcome of your case, we can promise to passionately fight for your reputation and liberty. We understand how overreaching police officers work, and we have developed our own team of experienced investigators and computer forensic experts who can help us build the best defense strategy tailored to your case.  Continue reading

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Former NFL player and Tampa Bay Buccaneer tight end Kellen Winslow II has accepted a new plea deal that will placed him behind bars for 14 years for rape, assaul, and other misdemeanor sex crimes, according to the plea agreement entered Friday in San Diego Superior Court.

The new plea deal will replace a previous agreement from his November 2019 case, where he plead guilty to rape and sexual battery charges in order to avoid life behind bars. The previous deal had a sentencing range of 12 to 18 years in prison that would be decided by a judge following a sentencing hearing. 

37-year-old Winslow appeared remotely in a court hearing from jail in San Diego County. He told the judge he would like to agree to 14 years, according to reports. 

The new plea deal also includes a new guilty plea by Winslow who apparently assaulted a female hitchhiker in her mid-50s with the intent to commit rape in March 2018.  

law-1063249_1920-300x225Winslow’s sentencing hearing is set for March 3, which is when final judgement will come. 

The jury in Winslow’s first trial in the spring of 2019 could not reach a unanimous verdict on all his charges. Winslow was almost sentenced last year under the old deal, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed Winslow’s sentencing scheduled for last March. 

The new plea agreement helps both sides avoid certain risks: the prosecutors avoid Winslow getting a shorter sentence and Winslow avoids a life in prison sentence, a risk associated with another trial. 

All of Winslow’s crimes took place in San Diego County. His first trial took place in June 2019 where a jury found him guilty of raping a homeless woman and exposing himself to a woman in his neighborhood in May 2018, as well as making a lewd gesture towards a woman at a gym in February 2019. 

Winslow also admitted guilt in November 2019 to raping an acquaintance while she was unconscious at a party in 2003, when she was 17 and he was 19.

In his new plea deal, he also pleaded guilty to assaulting the hitchhiker with the intent to commit rape.

Winslow has been in jail since March 2019, which will serve towards his 14-year sentence. 

At his first trial in spring 2019, Winslow was convicted by a jury for some of the charges against him.

In June 2019, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the other charges against him, which led to a retrial scheduled for November 2019.

If the new jury had convicted him on the remaining counts, he could have faced life in prison. However, Winslow opted to avoid that risk by making a plea agreement. 

Winslow’s attorneys previously argued that he suffered from brain injuries from football and a motorcycle accident in 2005, which they said resulted in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is linked to football head trauma. This frontal lobe damage is what his attorney’s believe led to changes in his behavior. They estimated he suffered more than 1,000 head injuries over the course of his football career, which ended in 2013. 

A sex crimes conviction is perhaps one of the more devastating convictions a person can face. You could be looking at years behind bars, large fines, and the lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. This means your name and information will be made available to the public, you will face restrictions on where you can live and work, and you may not be able to visit certain public spaces. This is why you need to get legal help with a sex crimes accusation as soon as possible as your future and freedom are most certainly at stake. Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your rights and legal options available to you in regards to the sex crimes charges you are facing. 

Why Do You Need to Hire a Sex Crimes Lawyer?  Continue reading

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Gainesville Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Whittel now spends his days representing those accused of the highest criminal allegations in Florida. His criminal trial experience along with his relationships built as an Assistant State Attorney in Gainesville are an invaluable part of his criminal defense practice.

We spent a few minutes with Criminal Defense Attorney Robert Whittel talking about handling Rape and Kidnapping cases in Florida, and especially Gainesville. One of the highlights of our conversation is the specific pieces of data that he remembers from his thousands of past cases.

Because I handled so many cases and supervised other lawyers at the prosecutors office handling our serious Sex Crime cases in Gainesville like Kidnapping and Rape, when we have the opportunity to represent new clients at Whittel & Melton we immediately work to deconstruct what we can assume or think the State’s plan is, down to how they have built the file, how they will present it to the judge and to the jury – and then we work backwards from verdict all the way back to arrest and look for holes, inconsistencies and vulnerable areas ripe for challenge and possible exclusion. Like anything else, because we’ve walked this road before, we know where they are going even before journey begins. – Robert Whittel, Gainesville Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer.

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A man is accused of flashing a woman and slapping her behind while she was walking to meet her boyfriend at a DeLand pub early Sunday, according to an arrest report.

The 27-year-old man is now facing a charge of indecent exposure and battery in relation to the incident, reports show.

According to the report, the woman was walking through the alley behind the pub around 1 a.m. when the man allegedly approached her and pulled out his genitals.

The man allegedly asked the woman to touch him and he slapped her behind when she refused.

The man allegedly followed the woman to the front door of the pub, at which point the woman’s boyfriend confronted him, the report states.

Police booked the man into the Volusia County Jail, where he’s being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Indecent exposure is actually a very serious crime and must be dealt with accordingly. While most of us know not to expose ourselves in public, when alcohol is thrown in the mix, all good judgement goes out the window. When this illegal conduct does happen, those accused deserve the best legal representation possible to fight and defend against the criminal charge.

Indecent exposure is not a minor infraction where a fine can be paid and the accused can move on with their life. An indecent exposure charge can actually cost you a lot more in fines and potential jail time. Because of this, the sooner you speak with a Volusia County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton, the better able you will be to fight the criminal charge.

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A University of Florida student was arrested Sunday morning after police claim he raped a woman Sunday in the UF Keys Residential Complex.

The 19-year-old was arrested on a charge of sexual battery. A UF spokesman said the man is enrolled at UF as a construction management sophomore.

The man was invited back to the woman’s apartment to hang out Sunday morning, a UF Police Department arrest report said. The woman apparently told the man she did not want to have sex.

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An ex-Florida Polytechnic police officer has been arrested on charges of sexual battery, extortion, and aggravated stalking of a family member.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said that a woman first went to deputies about the man on Wednesday and said the allegations had been happening since the fall of 2012.

Deputies claim the woman provided hundreds of text messages from the past six months that showed the man trying to control, intimidate, isolate, and humiliate her.

In an arrest affidavit, deputies said the man allegedly used “force or violence likely to cause serious personal injury” to sexually batter the woman, and he blackmailed her into having sex with him by threatening to publicly share nude photos of her, deputies said.

The man had apparently worked for Florida Polytech University for two years and resigned when he was arrested, deputies said.

A sex crime combined with an extortion offense can result in serious criminal consequences. In extortion cases, a person is accused of forcing another person to do something against their will, like sending money or giving up property. Similarly, sextortion refers to blackmailing or threatening someone for explicit photos, money and even sex.

Sextortion is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida, which could translate to 15 years in prison. When combined with a sex crime, like sexual battery, the consequences are drastically enhanced. You must fight to protect yourself from these serious allegations, as they will not just go away on their own. Our Florida Sextortion Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can fight for your rights and do everything we can to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular situation.

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A former Pasco County School District transportation manager was sentenced to life in prison in federal court for sexually assaulting children and producing and distributing child pornography.

In August, the 35-year-old New Port Richey man pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in sexual activity and to possessing child porn.

After statements were delivered and counsel was heard, the judge delivered the man’s sentence.

Court documents described the man as having a deeply embedded preference for sex with children that “descended to depths of depravity that are hard to fathom and that he’s a constant threat to society.”

The man began his career with Pasco schools as a school bus driver and worked his way up to the district’s transportation manager.

According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2014, the man, while employed by Pasco County Schools as a transportation manager, knowingly enticed a 15-year-old student from a local school to engage in sex acts.

Officials said the man had met the teen on the app Grindr.

The man engaged in a sexual relationship with the student that went on for several years. Officials said during that time, the man invited the student to view his collection of child pornography, invited him to watch live productions of child porn on the internet, and invited him to engage in group sex with other adults and minors.

The man also produced and distributed child porn of the student, according to the plea agreement.

Investigators said the man also had a close relationship with a Pasco County assistant principal. Officials said the two men would share child porn.

The government will review the man’s case in a few years under what’s called a Rule 35. That could determine whether he may be eligible for a parole at some point in the future.

After a person has been sentenced, there are several circumstances that could reduce the sentence. A direct appeal can be filed or the prosecution can file a motion pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to reward the person for providing substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.

Only the prosecution may file a Rule 35 motion, however, a criminal defense lawyer’s role in the process is substantial. Our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help make sure your are rewarded properly for the assistance provided. Our goal is to interest the prosecution in what you have to offer, ensure that the cooperation goes smoothly, and that the desired outcome is mutually achieved.  

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A 49-year-old Tampa man is facing federal charges after being accused of inappropriate behavior on a flight.

The man appeared in federal court Monday in Albuquerque, N.M., on a criminal complaint charging him with abusive sexual contact.  

The charge against the man arose out of an in-flight incident while traveling on a Southwest Airlines flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Sunday. The criminal complaint alleges he groped a woman in the seat in front of him. The woman then requested that flight attendants move her to a different seat.

A conviction on the abusive sexual contact charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department.

Crimes aboard aircraft fall within the FBI’s jurisdiction. Sex crimes on flights are surprisingly common. In 2014 there were 38 cases of in-flight sexual assault reported to the FBI. In 2015, that number increased to 63.

While there are certainly people that are sexually assaulted on airplanes, not every accusation of sexual assault or unlawful sexual conduct has merit. Sex crimes cases are rarely as black and white as that.

That why if you’re facing a charge of sexual assault or rape, it is absolutely vital for you to call a Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton. Don’t even think about trying to explain things to the police before you call us at 813-221-3200. We will put our decades of trial law and former state prosecution experience to work for you to fight for your rights and your freedom. We understand the severity of the charges you are facing and what it takes to build a successful case on your behalf.

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A Gainesville barber was one of seven men arrested in a Volusia County internet sex sting.

The 34-year-old was arrested at a RaceTrac station in Deltona over the weekend. He allegedly told Volusia County sheriff’s deputies he only came to the meeting place because he believed it was an undercover sting and he thought it would be cool to see it in action.

The man was arrested and is accused of engaging in sexually charged chats and texts with an undercover detective he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

The man was in custody Monday at the Volusia County jail in lieu of $40,000 bond. The charges against him:

  • use of a two-way communications device to commit a felony
  • attempted lewd and lascivious sexual battery on child
  • traveling to meet a child after luring the child via computer
  • use of a computer to lure a child.

There were six other men arrested in the sting, which started last Wednesday and concluded around 4 a.m. Sunday and was dubbed Operation Unlawful Attraction.

Undercover sting operations are very common these days. They start with some online chats and lead to phone calls, texts and conclude with a meetup. Police will pose as minors or the guardians of minors online and attempt to catch online “predators.”

The interesting thing about these stings is that you can be arrested even if you did not actually commit a crime. Showing up to an arranged meeting spot is enough to seal the deal and you will be carted off to jail right then and there. Once arrested, it is best to invoke your right to remain silent until you have secured legal representation. Regardless of your innocence, police will do everything they can to twist your words around to work against you in court.

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A Florida man is facing sex crimes charges after he was accused of a molesting a Flagler County teenager in January.

Flagler County deputies were apparently contacted Jan. 4 about a sex offense in Palm Coast. They investigated and claim the man allegedly molested a child between 12-18 years old.

After the allegations were reported to authorities, the accused left the area and had been living in Cape Coral until he was arrested earlier this month on charges of sexual battery and lewd/lascivious molestation.

He was returned to Flagler County and is being held on $150,000 bond.

Sex crimes charges, like sexual battery and molestation, are very serious because they carry extremely harsh consequences if convicted. You could be facing years in prison and lifetime registration as a sexual offender. Due to the severity of these charges, you must act fast to protect yourself. You need to enlist the help of a Flagler County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We specialize in sex crimes defense and can put our knowledge to work for you.

While every case is different, we will investigate every shred of evidence to find any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf. We cannot guarantee to get your charges dismissed or reduced, but we will fight aggressively to obtain an outcome that you can live with.

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