• Jacksonville firefighter arrested in St. Johns County online child sex sting

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A Jacksonville firefighter was arrested Tuesday after he described in detail how he wanted to sexually abuse a St. Johns County investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl online.

    Officials say 53-year-old David Eugene Labelle was the 20th person arrested in St. Johns County Sheriff's Office's "Operation Cruel Summer."

    According to Labelle's arrest warrant, a St. Johns County investigator posing as the teen girl responded to an ad by Labelle on July 27.

    The ad, titled "Naughty Daughter," said: "Hi, how are you doing today? I would like to talk to you and lets see what we can come up with. I have been looking for my naughty little girl. I am a 53 year old white married man."

    Labelle exchanged messages with the undercover detective from July 27 to Nov. 13, according to the warrant.

    The emails turned sexual in nature and Labelle mentioned meeting the girl at a location away from her house.

    He asked her what restaurants and parks she lived near, according to report. 

    SJSO officials say he sent several photos of himself to the girl, including pictures of him wearing a firefighter badge and T-shirt, the report says. 


    PHOTOS: Mugshots from "Operation Cruel Summer"


    One photo showed the inside of Station 27 on Fort Caroline Road, according to the arrest warrant.

    "One photo the subject sent depicted the inside of Station 27 with Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department. It was confirmed through work records the suspect was working at Station 27 on the day he sent the photograph to the child persona," the warrant detailed.

    JFRD said Labelle has been "employed since 2003 and immediately removed from field duty."

    He was charged with soliciting a child or person believed to be a child for unlawful sexual conduct using a computer and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

    Labelle was booked into the Duval County Jail on bonds totaling $20,000.

    St. Johns County's Operation Cruel Summer

    Deputies announced 17 arrests in the operation in August.

    Officials said seventeen men ranging from 19 to 60 years old were arrested after communicating with undercover investigators online.

    Four of the men were convicted felons and several others had been convicted of child crimes in the past, officiasl said.

    "The purpose of these operations is to protect children in the state of Florida," St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said.

    Shoar said detectives went on several online chatting sites posing as kids looking for people who wanted sexual relationships with children.

    "These people know they could be talking to law enforcement, yet they still do it. I mean, what a compulsion that must be," Shoar said.

    Officials said hundreds of people were talking to law enforcement online.

    "We just got 17 that actually got in their cars and came here," Shoar said.

    Shoar said the suspects thought they were meeting children for sex, but they were really meeting with detectives at an undercover location in the eastern part of the county, where they were taken into custody.

    "There's nothing worse than seeing children be victimized by anybody, especially these types of people who are looking to sexually manipulate and exploit these kids," Shoar said.

    All the suspects are facing felony charges. Shoar said that far more people are getting away with the crime than the number who are caught.

    He said he believes one of the men arrested is also a human trafficker.

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