A man from Florida has been convicted of attempted child molestation, computer pornography and fleeing police after a Woodstock undercover police operation found he was trying to meet a young teen for sex.
Earlier this month, a Cherokee County jury convicted Jesus Franco Arroyo, 24, of Lakeland, FL, guilty of computer pornography, criminal attempt to commit a felony (child molestation), and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers, according to District Attorney Shannon Wallace.
In a remote court proceeding Aug. 18, Senior Judge Frank C. Mills III sentenced Arroyo to 15 years, with 5 years to serve in prison and the remaining 10 years to serve on probation.
According to the district attorney’s office, an investigation conducted October 30-31, 2020 showed Arroyo used a messaging app called MeetMe and text messaging to seduce, solicit, and entice a 14-year-old girl named “Stacey” in order to commit an act of child molestation.
Stacey was actually a fictitious child created by an undercover Woodstock police officer from the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. Undercover agents on this task force receive training and education about current trends in child exploitation and offender behavior, which aids them in creating decoy profiles online that mimic the circumstances under which real children have been exploited. This strategy enables officers to detect individuals seeking to exploit children before they are able to harm a real child.
Arroyo invited Stacey to meet him in person at Dupree Park in Woodstock, for the purpose of sexual intercourse, prosecutors said.
At nearly 2 a.m. on October 31, Arroyo arrived at the park to wait for the 14-year-old child to sneak out of her mother’s house and walk through the woods to his car. While he waited, Arroyo continued to send text messages to the child with his cell phone.
When Woodstock Police arrived, Arroyo sped out of Dupree Park toward Highway 92, eventually wrecking into the carport of a private residence where officers arrested him.
“Arroyo’s actions demonstrate the dangers that children face online every day. We are fortunate that Stacey was a fictional child, rather than a real 14-year-old,” said Deputy Chief District Attorney Katie Gropper, who prosecuted the case. “Undercover operations like these are critical in detection and prevention of child exploitation and we are fortunate to work with the Woodstock Police Department to protect the children of our community.”
Probation conditions include no possession of firearms, alcohol, or illegal substances. Arroyo will also be subject to sex offender conditions of supervision, including no contact of any kind with minors under the age of 18.
“Many children are safer tonight, thanks to the excellent work of an undercover Woodstock police officer, who identified this sick individual before he was able to hurt an innocent child, and to the Cherokee County jurors, who found this defendant guilty,” Wallace said in a statement. “This sentence ensures that this defendant will be confined, monitored, and unable to hurt a real child.”