Jacksonville Navy chief accused of traveling to Sarasota to meet teen for sex

Travis Deel, 40, was set to deploy day after his arrest

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A U.S. Navy sailor based at Mayport was arrested and charged with three felonies including soliciting a child to commit sex acts. He was one of 25 men taken into custody in Operation Intercept VI, a 4-day initiative aimed at protecting children from online predators and human trafficking. 

Chief Hospital Corpsman Travis Deel, 40, admitted to Sarasota County authorities that he traveled from Jacksonville to Sarasota to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex, according to court records. Deel was due to deploy the day after his arrest and less than two months away from retirement, and September would mark 20 years he's been with the Navy. 

According to the Sarasota County arrest report July 17 Deel exchanged phone numbers with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl on a website. The conversation continued via text.

Documents show Deel texted the undercover agent: “Nice, you OK I’m 40?” and “Never did anything like this before, especially with someone your age.”

“I don’t believe he is being forthcoming when he says he has never done anything like this," said News4Jax crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson. "He’s trying to portray the image he is innocent in this and this is something he wants to try out."

The document said the conversation became sexually explicit, with Deel sending a naked full body photo.

“His whole career is going down the drain upon conviction," Jefferson said. "He obviously had this perversion for quite some time and he might have gotten away with it, for quite some time."

According to the arrest report, Deel told authorities he purchased condoms at the Navy Exchange in Jacksonville before traveling to Sarasota.

Jefferson believes if Deel is convicted, he will be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.

Deel is a decorated chief with five Navy/Marine Corps achievement medals, six Good Conduct medals, a National Defense Service medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, an Afghanistan Campaign medal, three Iraq Campaign medals, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service medal, four Sea Service Deployment ribbons, a Combat Action ribbon and a Navy Unit Commendation medal. 

He was assigned to guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in February of this year.

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