A call taker at a children’s crisis center. A cohabitating couple with three children in the house. Six married men. Seven adults who live in a home with minors.
Those are among the 18 suspects arrested for child pornography possession last week in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Operation Child Guardian. The 3 1/2-week operation ended in arrests of another 21 suspects for being registered sex offenders who didn’t comply with registration laws.
“We weren’t able to identify any child victims during this operation,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference. “That is our main focus, to identify child victims. All of the child porn we dealt with in this operation appeared to be commercial child pornography. And the children were between newborn and 14 years of age. Most, however, were between 5 and 8 years old.”
Judd said six of the suspects possessed more than 100 images or videos of child pornography.
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Among those who were arrested:
▪ Erik Gordon, a 31-year-old who works at Peace River Center, a mental health and drug rehabilitation center, as a call taker for children in crisis. The married father of a 2-year-old was charged with 38 counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child.
▪ Michelle Roberts and Richard Bishop live together in Lakeland. The sheriff’s office said Roberts told police she watches child pornography when having sex with Bishop and Bishop affirmed that. Each was charged with 20 counts of promotion of a sexual performance by a child, two counts possession of child pornography and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Police say they found a .45 caliber handgun in the residence so Roberts also was charged of possession of a firearm by a felon. The welfare of the three children under their care fell to the state Department of Children and Families.
▪ Auburndale’s Michael Dietz was charged with 102 counts of child pornography possession in addition to one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child. The Dietz household also was arrested. Deputies investigating Michael Dietz say they found methamphetamine belonging to his parents, Vicki Dietz, 46, and Terry Dietz, 47.
One suspect, 30-year-old Matthew Sutton, wasn’t at his Bartow home. There’s a warrant for his arrest on 84 counts of child pornography possession. Deputies found his mother, 52-year-old Theresa Sutton, too combative as they executed the search warrant. So, they busted her for resisting arrest.