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How to protect kids from sex crimes

Underage sex sting nets 12 arrests in St. Johns County

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A multi-county effort to crack down on sex crimes against children netted 12 arrests in St. Johns County, Sheriff David Shoar announced Tuesday.

The 12 men arrested as part of the seven-day Operation End of the Road ranged in age from 21 to 60 years old, Shoar said. The sting took place from March 30 to April 6.

The men are facing a variety of charges from traveling to meet a minor for sex to using a computer to lure a child for sex.

Shoar said the men were expecting to meet minors who ranged in age from 12 to 16 years old and included both boys and girls. Instead they were met by undercover detectives, who had been posing as juveniles online to arrange to meet the suspects at an undercover house in the western part of St. Johns County.

Investigators said 32-year-old Matthew Caniff, a pharmacy technician, brought prescription drugs with him for the would-be victim.

Lee Davis, a 22-year-old security engineer, wore Batman pajamas because that is what the "child" wanted. He also had a three-pack of condoms on him when he was arrested, authorities said.

James Goodwin, 60, brought the “child” he thought he was meeting orange Gatorade and chocolate ice cream, according to arrest reports.

A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told News4Jax she lives near Goodwin.

"I'm not surprised but it's still shocking," she said. "He's kind of a loner. He really doesn't come out unless to do the yard. And he just gives off really weird vibes."

Goodwin was caught after sending messages to an officer he thought was a 14-year-old boy on Adam 4 Adam, a dating website for men, deputies said. 

Several of the man were caught a similar way, deputies said, using sites like Grindr, Badoo, OkCupid and Meet Me. Deputies said they caught others on sites like Craiglist and on social media. 

Dwann Rollinson, pastor and social media strategist, said it's a wakeup call for parents

"I think too many times we have a check in our heart and sometimes we don't follow those checks so you got to pay attention to even peculiar behavior," Rollinson said.

Rollinson said parents need to know about sites like Grindr, Adam 4 Adam, Whisper and Badoo to keep children from people who may try to harm them. 

"We have to realize that teens and children are the No. 1 group of people who are targeted for sex crimes online," Rollinson said.

She said there is a risk in all sites kids use, including Instagram and Snapchat, and it’s up to parents and caregivers to stay on top of what their children are doing.

One thing she said to look for is a child using a name that isn’t theirs, and changes in phone behavior.

"You can tell when they're kind of hugging their phone, when they have that thing so close that they don't want to let it go. I think that's a clue that there's a problem or potential improprieties taking place online," said Rollinson.

Most of all, Rollinson said parents should trust their gut.

"I think you have to listen to the voice on the inside of you and when you feel something bad, check it out because you don't know what you are saving your child from," she said.

To help parents, Rollinson offered this "TIP."

T: Talk to children 

I: Investigate and look at kids' phones and social media apps

P: Exert parental authority and recognize it's better to be their parent to help protect them. 

The men arrested, including their ages, cities of residence and charges, are:

  • Lee Mark Davis, 22, St. Augustine, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Oscar Aster Cabrera-Adames, 21, Daytona Beach, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Travon Carnell White-Thomas, 22, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Corey Richard Sinnott, 31, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Keaton Richard Cernin, 25, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, transmitting information harmful to minors, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Jeremy Lee Hughes, 41, Brunswick, Georgia, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Adam Tucker Driggers, 31, Palm Coast, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • James Willard Goodwin, 60, St. Augustine, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Matthew Bryan Caniff, 32, Gainesville, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, promoting sexual performance of a child, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription
  • Charles Arthur Thompson, 35, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Kevin Michael Philippi, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • David Lawrence Kausch III, 25, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony

Caniff, who is facing the additional drug charge, was released after posting $58,000 bond.

White-Thomas, a sailor, was released after posting $55,000 bond, Cabrera-Adames, a student, was released after posting $30,000 bond, and Davis, a security engineer, was released after posting $150,000 bond.

Driggers was released after posting $25,000 bond.

Hughes, a driver for Uber, is being held on an $80,000 bond, deputies said. He thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl with special needs.

Sinnott ($75,000), Cernin ($110,000), Goodwin ($30,000), Thompson ($100,000), Philippi ($75,000) and Kausch ($55,000) were all being held on bonds Tuesday afternoon.

In one of the conversations, an undercover detective said to Kausch, “I don’t want (you) to get in trouble.” Kausch replied: “That’s only if we get caught right lol.”

Shoar said that in addition to the 12 men arrested, about five more never showed for their planned meetings.

Shoar said the results of the sting should be another sign to parents to always be aware of what their children are doing online.

"If you're not proactive in your children's lives, their Internet lives, you are making a profound mistake," Shoar said. "If you think you know what they're doing on that Internet, you would be mistaken. If you've got children in those age brackets, from nowadays 8 right on up until their late teens, you should be monitoring that to see who they are talking to."

Shoar said only one of the men had previous charges involving a minor, which included a warrant out of Georgia for molestation of a minor and incest.

Shoar was joined for the announcement of the arrests by St. Augustine Police Chief Loran Lueders and Assistant Chief Barry Fox, and chief prosecutor Chris France of the State Attorney's Office.

He said it was the third such effort in St. Johns County through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which combines the efforts of multiple agencies, including the FBI; FDLE; State Attorney's Office; the Sheriff's Offices of St. Johns, Volusia, Clay, Alachua and Nassau counties; the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office; and the police departments of St. Augustine, Orange Park and Gainesville.

Shoar said stings like Operation End of the Road are very expensive and intense to put on, but the task force will continue to do them to keep children safe.