Dale County, AL - An Ozark substitute bus driver is charged with electronic solicitation of a child.
Officials are crediting the parents' watchful eye in being able to catch a potential child predator.
Jonathan Lee, 29, believed he was talking with a 15 year old boy on Facebook. Police say Lee had booked a room at Panama City beach and planned to take the teen with him. Little did Lee know that account had been taken over.
“When Mr. Lee showed up to pick up the boy from McDonald’s in Ozark. The Dale County Sheriff's office was waiting on him,” said Dale County Sheriff’s Office Chief Investigator Harvey Mathis.
About two weeks ago, the teen's mother became suspicious and investigators took over the account.
“As time went on it became very sexually oriented. This is a very vigilant family and my hats off to them,” said Mathis.
Lee is charged with electronic solicitation of a child. That is a class b felony.
For the past two years, the suspect has served as a substitute bus driver for Ozark City Schools.
"With regard to his past driving, we have a fairly high level of confidence that there was never anything inappropriate on a school bus. All of our buses, and most buses in Alabama, are equipped with video surveillance. So if there is ever a cause for concern, we are able to go back and review video," said Dr. Rick McInturf, Ozark City Schools Associate Superintendent.
It’s not clear if there are any other victims, but investigators have confiscated Lee’s computer and cell phone.
“To me it looked very suspicious, and the judge will decide if he's guilty of any crime, but my job is to protect the children of Dale County and it is something I take very seriously,” said Mathis.
Lee has been fired from the Ozark city school system.
If convicted, his bus driving certificate will be revoked and he could be sentenced anywhere from 2 to 20 years in prison.
Lee was booked into the Dale County jail under a $30,000 bond.