Junior Navy officer arrested and charged for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old deaf girl
The officer solicited sex from a minor through online communications with an undercover detective -- whom he thought was a guardian of a 12-year-old deaf girl.
A junior Navy officer was arrested after he was found trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old deaf girl. 30-year-old U.S Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael McNeil was apprehended while he was on his way to a Starbucks in Clay County to meet with the minor. The Navy Times reports that McNeil had online conversations from August 27 to August 30 with someone he believed to be a girl. However, according to the Clay County Sheriff's records, he was, in fact, communicating with an undercover officer.
Speaking about the incident, the sheriff's office spokesman Sergeant Kevin Smith said, "He entered a chat room from my understanding and initiated the conversation. He believed he was conversing with a child the whole time." But when McNeil tried to take the encounter forward on August 30, the authorities sprung into action.
"During four days of conversation, Mr. McNeil made his intentions with the young girl very clear," the sheriff's office stated in a social media post. The 30-year-old had traveled from Jacksonville to Orange Park to discuss engaging in sexual activity with the minor. He was arrested in Blanding Boulevard after meeting with a deputy pretending to be the little girl's parent.
Many of the comments on the post thanked the department for apprehending McNeil. One wrote, "Biting my tongue from what I want to say about him. Grrr!!!
Thank you CCSO for catching him." Another similarly commented, "Awesome Job Clay County Sheriff's Dept! So glad he is off the street!!! You can't fix a sick mind!"
McNeil was a surface warfare officer stationed with the destroyer USS Lassen at the nearby Naval Station Mayport and had been temporarily assigned to the Naval Surface Squadron 14, said Naval Surface Force Atlantic spokesman James DeAngio.
Navy records state that McNeil had enlisted for service in 2006 and subsequently attended officer candidate school in 2016. An Arkansas native, he had reported to the destroyer after receiving his commission. He was not available for comment on the case. The 30-year-old has been charged with felony violations of Florida's Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. He has also been charged with using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony and using a computer to solicit a guardian.
According to Action News Ajax, McNeil is married and is the father of a young boy. Disciplinary action has not been taken against the officer and he is said to have posted his $75,000 bail and walked out free. No trial date has been scheduled as of yet. The Navy has confirmed that its Naval Criminal Investigative Service is also conducting its own investigation into the case.