A Florida deputy was arrested for soliciting sexually explicit photos from who he thought was a 15-year-old girl but was actually a campaign to catch child predators in Charlotte County, Florida.
The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said that one of their own deputies had been arrested for allegedly trying to have a sexual relationship with an underage girl online.
That girl was, in actuality, a man named Lee Bassett and a woman named Rebecca Freeman.
Lee Bassett is a construction worker who also leads a team of people, including Freeman, dedicated to exposing predators who are trying to take advantage of children on social media.
"There's just a lot of creeps out there, and we're just trying to expose them and bring awareness to it," Bassett said in an interview with the Port Charlotte Sun. "A lot of times when cops do it, they don't get an arrest until the crime's already been committed. Doing it this way exposes them before they're doing the crimes."
But when he discovered that one of the men he was talking to was a sheriff's deputy, he called the police.
"As soon as we found that out I had to call the cops right away," Bassett said to WBBH-TV.
Bassett said he had talked to Deputy Martin Allen, 41, for 10 months before he turned the matter over to the police.
Sheriff Bill Prummell said Allen allegedly made many explicit suggestions to the man posing as a teenager on social media.
"From sleeping nude together to taking showers to giving massages. Allen went as far as asking if the 15-year-old girl would move in with him," Prummell said.
"Deputy Allen has broken his oath and that sacred trust that is expected as a law enforcement officer, instead, choosing to prey upon those he swore to serve and protect. This cannot and will not be tolerated," he added.
Freeman praised the police for their quick response after they informed them about Allen.
"I thought are they going to try to help us? Or are they going to try to protect him? But thank God they did the right thing and got him off the street," Freeman said.
However, law enforcement officials warned the public against vigilantism.
Allen was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct. He was also placed on administrative leave without pay.
Here's a local news report about the arrest:
Charlotte County deputy arrested for sending sexual messages to teen