Former Boston Red Sox pitcher among 27 men caught in undercover child sex sting operation, Florida police say

Florida police said that an undercover sting operation caught 27 men who were allegedly seeking to have sex with children.

Among the suspects arrested was a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters released details about the five-day “Operation Valiant Knight” at a media briefing on Monday.

‘The internet provides new and frightening opportunities for predators to victimize our children.’

“Undercover detectives posing as children, chatted online with these adults,” said Waters. “These adults solicited sexual activity and committed to engaging in sex acts with purported minors and pre-arranged locations.”

The men were made to believe they were talking to a 14-year-old girl on the internet in most cases.

Police said they were immediately arrested after they arrived to have sex with minors. Waters said 24 men were arrested initially and three others were arrested during a follow-up investigation.

Video released by police showed the moment that Austin Maddox, a former major league baseball player, was tackled by police as he walked to a home allegedly expecting to engage with sex with a child.

Maddox had played for the University of Florida and was drafted in 2012 by the Boston Red Sox. He played with the team in 2017 before he was released in 2019. He was charged with four felony counts and held in jail on a $300,000 bond.

The other men arrested ranged from 19 to 69 years old, according to police.

“As you can see from these photographs, these men run the gamut of ages, backgrounds, and races,” said Waters at the media briefing.

One man, Matthew Moses, believed he was talking to a stepmother that was going to allow him to have sex with her stepdaughter. Another man, 69-year-old Christopher Brand, was arrested after he allegedly tried to solicit sex from a 14-year-old.

Others arrested were a respiratory therapist at the Mayo Clinic and a former janitor with the Duval County Public Schools District.

A defense attorney for Maddox said that the man intends to fight the charges and plead not guilty.

“JSO and our partners put the highest priority on the safety and security of our children,” said Waters.

“As the internet provides new and frightening opportunities for predators to victimize our children, our investigators, along with those with our partner agencies will continue to proactively identify and apprehend child predators before they have the opportunity to act upon their perversions,” he added.

Here’s more about the sting operation:

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