‘Operation Predator’ busts eight men for child sex trafficking

Crime

GALLIA COUNTY, OH (WOWK) – The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office has recently charged eight men who agreed to meet and pay for sexual conduct with what the offender believed was a minor under the age of sixteen.

“We know that predators are using the internet and technology and smart phone technology against our children every day,” Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin said.

Champlin said his department began Operation Predator in an effort to eliminate sexual predators from preying on youth in Gallia County.

“In this technological age every day we are seeing the youth of our county being taken advantage of by individuals more and more through electronic devices and social media. As your Sheriff, this scares me, as a parent myself this absolutely terrifies me. Over the past several months, I have guided and directed an investigative team as we have performed online investigations to determine if there is a threat to our youth through online platforms which provide for prostitution or other unlawful sexual acts against our children.

Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin

According to a statement sent to 13 News, charges from the investigation include:

  • Ryan A. Washburn, 31, of Guysville, Ohio charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Rodney L. Weaver Jr., 41, of Albany, Ohio charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Christopher A. Jett, 41, of Parkersburg, W.V., charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • George M. Cremeans, 41, of Gallipolis, Ohio, charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Kyle A. Sammons, 37, of Kitts Hill, Ohio, charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Jon A. Mattea, 43, of Cheshire, Ohio, charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Willard R. Williams III, 48, of Ray, Ohio, charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning
  • Rodney L. Ault, 43, of Gnadenhutten, Ohio, charged with two counts of Compelling Prostitution and one count of Importuning

“At the end of the day, can we stop them all? No, absolutley we can not, but my goal is to show the predators that are out there with the advertising that we’re doing with this operation, we’re not going to be a hotbed for that type of activity here in Gallia County,” Champlin said.

In the operation, undercover investigators lure in the predators by using fake prostitution websites, leading them to a warranted arrest.

But Champlin says parents keeping an eye on their kids’ online activity is the first defense against becoming a victim.

“If you find something on your child’s device, a lot of parents will get ashamed or embarrassed of that,” he said. “Understand that if your child is being approached and victimized, there’s probably hundreds of other kids that are being contacted by these individuals.”

Champlin said he commends those who have worked in this investigation.

“I would like to commend the law enforcement professionals who have worked so hard on this operation. From our detectives and deputies on the street to our corrections division, to our partners with the United States Marshal Service along with several of our fellow enforcement agencies and Prosecuting Attorney Jason Holdren’s Office, all of these folks have dug their heels in to bring a successful conclusion to this operation.”

Gallia County Sheriff Matt Champlin

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