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Online predators seeking sex with children face stiff sentences

Arrests like those in Polk County often lead to prison terms

TAVARES, Fla. – Undercover police stings of men seeking sex with children online have become well-planned, multi-week operations and proved very successful in putting men in prison, a Local 6 analysis of past cases finds.

One year ago, the Lake County sheriff hosted one such operation, called "Summer Nights", over five nights, luring men to a rental home where they were greeted not by children, as they expected, but law enforcement.

Of the 30 cases Local 6 could track to the court system, 18 have progressed to sentencing, all but one in Lake County Circuit Court.

Thirteen men were sentenced to prison, for an average of four and a half years each. The prison terms range from one 10-year federal prison sentences to three three- year terms in state prison.

Five others received probation, one for only one year after he was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The other four received five-year probation terms.

Twelve of those arrested are either awaiting trial or sentencing.