Man accused of having sexual relationship with teenage girl

Suspect exchanged explicit photos with victim through Facebook, deputies say

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Polk County deputies say they have arrested a man who had sex with a 16-year-old girl on multiple occasions.

Two tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led authorities to begin investigating John Waldau, 36. Deputies said Waldau had been exchanging sexually explicit images with the 16-year-old victim through Facebook Messenger.

During the investigation, authorities learned that Waldau met the victim through another adult and began an online relationship with her that later transitioned into a sexual relationship, according to a news release.

The victim and Waldau both admitted that the teen would sneak out of her home to meet with Waldau and they had sex at Waldau's house on at least three different occasions during the summer of 2018, officials from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Waldau, who has worked for 18 years at the City of Lakeland's Public Works Department, said he knew it was wrong to have sex and exchange photos with the teen, but he couldn't stop himself, the report said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd described Waldau as a predator.

"Waldau is a classic sexual predator who cultivates a relationship with a child online and then turns that relationship into a sexually explicit one. He knowingly and cunningly took advantage of this girl. We encourage parents to actively monitor their children's online activities so they can help protect their children from predators like Waldau," Judd said.

Waldua is facing charges of sexual activity with a victim 16 or 17, two counts of transmitting material harmful to a minor, one count of unlawful use of a two-way communication device and one count of traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child.

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