SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A Volusia County man is accused of traveling to Seminole County to meet who he thought was a 12-year-old girl for sex, deputies said.
An undercover agent from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office posted an online ad posing as the father of the child. Deputies said Joel Eddy replied to that ad on May 26 and began communicating with the undercover agent to set up a meeting to have sex with the 12-year-old girl.
Eddy was arrested on Tuesday when he went to the predetermined location in Seminole County, according to an affidavit.
Seminole County Sheriff's Office public information manager Kim Cannaday said deputies often conduct these types of undercover operations to catch potential offenders before they harm children.
"It's very serious. He had four weeks to change his mind, and he was persistent and continued to the point where he arranged to meet this father with this alleged 12-year-old," Cannaday said.
Eddy was charged with traveling to meet minor for sex and using a computer to solicit parent consent for a minor child to engage in sexual conduct.
The arrest report listed Eddy's employer as the Department of Juvenile Justice. The DJJ said Eddy worked as a juvenile detention officer at the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Daytona Beach for two years.
“Upon learning of the arrest of Joel Eddy, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) took immediate action to terminate his employment. This behavior is inexcusable, unacceptable and has not and will not be tolerated by DJJ. We would like to thank the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for their dedication to public safety and to keeping families safe and we stand ready to assist the Sheriff’s Office in any way, ” DJJ secretary Christina Daly said in a statement.
Cannaday said there's no evidence that Eddy abused any of the juveniles he worked with at the detention center.
"At this point it doesn't appear that there are any other victims. However that's going to be part of our investigator's job to look and to see if there are any more and if there are any parents or juveniles out there who are concerned or think they may have been victimized, please contact us," she said.
Eddy has no disciplinary action on his personnel file, and he did pass a background check before he was hired, the DJJ said. The agency plans to review Eddy's personnel file closely and cooperate with law enforcement officers during the investigation.
With news of Eddy's arrest, deputies released a list of safety tips for parents.
- Communicate with your child. Talk with them about the potential dangers online and the reasons why they
should be careful.
- Spend time with your child online and learn their favorite online destinations.
- Keep the computer in an area of the house where online activity can be monitored, not in your child’s bedroom.
- Use parental controls and/or blocking software.
- Instruct children not to give out personal information, such as their home address, school name or telephone
number, and never to arrange a meeting with someone they met online without your permission.
Additional safety information can be found in the FBI’s Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety at www.fbi.gov/resources/parents.