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Former FDLE Intern Found Guilty in Undercover Internet Sex Sting

Tallahassee, Florida- August 30, 2012

A man who once was an intern for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Crimes Against Children's Unit has been found guilty of soliciting a 14 year old girl for sex.

Kevin Cantrell was one of about three dozen people arrested last fall in an Internet sex sting. Undercover officers posed as teenaged girls online. Today, Cantrell took the stand in his own defense, saying he went to visit the supposed teen, because he thought it was an adult playing games with him.

Kevin Cantrell says he was depressed and lonely and it's why he answered a personals ad on Craigslist.

Said Don Pumphrey, a defense attorney: "He goes to the door to knock on it, he was tackled by five guys."

Cantrell was arrested last October during "Tallyop"- an undercover Internet sex sting. The person who placed the ad was a Tallahassee Police Officer posing as a teenager.

During his trial Thursday, Cantrell took the stand and said he thought he was chatting online with an adult. Even though the officer said in their online coversation she was almost 15 years old, Cantrell says her reaction to his dirty talk said otherwise to him.

Cantrell described the talk as: "Very explicit in detail. The woman responded and understood it. What did that tell you at that time? That told me absolutely that this was absolutely a woman."

The prosecution played Cantrell's phone conversation with the supposed teen in court.

Said Prosecutor Kathy Ray: "Didn't you intern for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Internet Crimes Against Children sections?

Cantrell: "Yes, that's correct."

Ray: "Okay and you're telling me that you don't have any knowledge that people under the age of 18 don't go onto Craigslist? Is that your testimony?

Cantrell: Yes."

About three dozen people were arrested during that Tallyop undercover sting. Another defendent, Jason Jarrell, goes on trial tomorrow.

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UPDATE: August 30, 2012 at 3:10pm

The jury is now deliberating.

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UPDATE: August 30, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Cantrell is through testifying. His lawyer entered a motion to dismiss the case. Judge Hankinson dismissed the motion. The judge also has dismissed a motion of acquittal.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 12:17pm

Cantrell says it had to be a woman since it was an adult website.

The prosecutor told Cantrell that it's unbelievable for him to not to know that some adults chat with minors on the internet because Cantrell once was an intern with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Crimes Against Children division.

Cantrell keeps maintaining on the witness stand that everything he did and said that night was only playing into the persona of an adult woman playing games.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 12:10pm

Cantrell is testifying that he thought the person he was chatting with online and texting on the phone was an adult playing some type of game.

The prosecutor asked why would he waste his time playing games with a woman if he's on a website with thousands of other women listed to potentially talk to.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 11:45am

Cantrell just got on the witness stand.

UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 11:29am

The state has rested. The only witness the defense has is Cantrell himself.

Cantrell told the judge he wants to tell his side of the story. He will take the stand soon.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 11:27am

The Tallahassee Police investigator who was posing as a teenager while chatting online with Cantrell took the stand. The undercover officer went over all of the correspondence between the two over the internet and text messages.

A female detective from the Alachua County Sheriff's Office pretending as the teen girl is the one who had the phone conversation with Cantrell.

The prosecution is playing the audio of that conversation to the court.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 11:08am

The prosecutor says on the night of October 14, 2011, Cantrell responded to a personals ad posted on Craigslist. The person Cantrell was chatting with online was an undercover female police officer, but the prosecutor says Cantrell thought he was talking to a 14-year-old girl.

The prosecutor says Cantrell was talking about sex and what he wanted to do with the girl.

Cantrell was arrested after going to a home in Killearn in northeast Tallahassee to visit the person he thought he was was chatting with online.

Cantrell's defense attorney says in Cantrell's mind, he was speaking with an adult because he was on an adult-only website. The attorney says Cantrell, who was 25 at that time, was using explicit language, only because he didn't believe he was talking to a 14-year-old. The attorney says Cantrell could tell by certain terms being used that the person was an adult but decided to go along with "the game." The attorney says Cantrell went to the house to verify it was a woman because she wouldn't send him a picture. He says had a photo of a minor been posted, Cantrell wouldn't have agreed to a visit.

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UPDATED: August 30, 2012 at 9:30am

The jury has just been sworn in in the trial of Kevin Cantrell. Cantrell is charged with computer solicitation of a minor and traveling to meet a minor for sex.

Opening arguments are underway. Cantrell was one of the nearly three dozen people arrested in the "Tallyop" Internet sex sting in October 2011.


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