Operation "Paladin’s Shield" in Walton County charges 8 with child sex solicitation

A five-day operation leads to the arrest of eight men for soliciting a child for sex including a registered sex offender out of Escambia County.

By monitoring smartphone apps and online ads an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force went hunting for sexual offenders in the Panhandle.

“We are going to rid our community of these animals one-by-one,” said Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

The operation was conducted at an undisclosed location in Walton County for a five day period ending Sunday. The following is a list of those arrested:
Richard Augustus Pate, 67, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Keith Christophe Meade, 30, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chad Dugas, 18, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Jame Nicholas Gibson, 27, Pensacola, Florida
Timothy Keith Lewis, 20, Milton, Florida
Trenton Patrick Hooks, 32, Milton, Florida
Thomas Bannin, 36, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Charles Spence, 33, Valparaiso, Florida

“These people are the worst of the worst,” said Sheriff Adkinson. “We cannot encourage parents enough to be aware of the applications and websites their kids are using.”

Walton County Sheriff’s Office hosted the operation with help of area agencies including Panama City Beach Police, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Pensacola Police Department, Gulf Breeze Police Department and other Florida agencies including Gainesville Police Department, Tallahassee Police Department, Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“The success of this operation is a direct result of the passion, hard work, and dedication of the men and women who work internet crimes against children,” added Adkinson.

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