Seven people have been arrested and 21 more will face charges after a "first of its kind" undercover child sex crimes sting involving Goose Creek Police partnering with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
"I’m proud we were able to pull everything together," said Goose Creek Police Chief L.J. Roscoe. "This is something I wanted to do when I came to Goose Creek."
Dubbed "Operation Caught in the Creek," the initiative used technology to track down several child sex crime suspects over the course of five days last week, February 12-16.
According to Chief Roscoe, six of the seven suspects arrested so far were men who had traveled to a location in Goose Creek with intentions of having sex with an undercover investigator they believed was a 13-14 year old child.
"We had men from other states. Some men even offered to fly here from other states for again to have sex with a juvenile is what they thought they were coming for," Roscoe said.
These men were very specific in communicating over the internet their intentions to have sex with an underage person, and the majority even distributed pornography to the undercover agent they thought was a child, according to Chief Roscoe.
Once taken into custody, detectives found some of the suspects had child pornography and bestiality videos in their possession.
The seven individuals charged so far are:
- Matthew J. Hagan (26), of Ridgeville, S.C., who is unemployed.
- Austin Ostrander (24), of Summerville, S.C., who refused to provide investigators his place of employment.
- Seann J. Peters (49), of Moncks Corner, S.C., a U.S. Postal Service worker.
- Kent J. Turkoly (39), of Goose Creek, S.C., who works for FedEx and Uber.
- Joey D. Clark (27), of St. George, S.C., who works for a boating manufacturer.
- Otis R. Miller, Jr. (38), of Goose Creek, S.C., who works for a Walmart store.
- Anthony R. Hale (24), who works for the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command Center in Goose Creek.
Each of the seven suspects, as well as the 21 awaiting charges, will face multiple charges including attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor and distribution of child pornography, according to Chief Roscoe.
None of the suspects have prior criminal convictions related to child sex crimes, and none were registered sex offenders, Chief Roscoe said.
The multi-agency operation was an effort of the South Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and was five months in the making, Chief Roscoe said.
Other agencies involved in the investigation included the South Carolina Attorney General's Office, the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, the York County Sheriff's Office, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Mount Pleasant Police, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Chief Roscoe said the idea for the undercover operation was not prompted by a specific incident; rather, it was an initiative she had in mind since coming to the Goose Creek Police Department.