Sting operations are often used by police to catch alleged sex offenders. Seven people were recently arrested in a Fort Worth online predator sting.
Those arrested included a North Crowley High School teacher reported the Star-Telegram. They were accused of online solicitation of a minor following a weekend law enforcement sting.
The 29-year-old science teacher was identified by the newspaper. The Star-Telegram reported he was placed on administrative leave pending the result of an investigation. These kinds of operations are carried out habitually in Texas. On occasions, they combine the forces of a wide range of law enforcement agencies and often involve considerable publicity.
The sting operation involved investigators who posed online as girls and boys aged 13-15, stated Sgt. Wade Walls, supervisor of Fort Worth’s crimes against children unit.
The sting involved the seven suspects showing up at an agreed upon location to have sexual contact with a person they thought was a teenage girl, police said.
Instead of meeting a teen, they were apprehended and arrested by police officers.
Investigators said they intend to obtain an arrest warrant for an eighth suspect who ran from the location, Walls said.
An affidavit document stated he is accused of responding to a post reading “Sunday funday?” set up by police on a social media application called Whisper.
Police say the conversation between the teacher and the officer purporting to be a teen girl eventually included text messages of a sexual nature. The affidavit stated he sent the “girl” a photo of himself and of a penis. He then requested a meeting.
One of the men who was arrested, Douglas Hammonds, was a registered sex offender who sentenced to more than four years in federal prison in 2004.
Although sting operations like those on the TV show To Catch a Predator are effective, there is a thin line between sting operations which are lawful and entrapment which is not.
See our website for an explanation of the difference. If you have been arrested for an offense in Tarrant County or elsewhere in Texas, you arrest may not have been legal.