Date: November 13, 2002 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856, Pager

Computer Crimes Unit Arrests Man for Soliciting Children Via Internet

After a six-month investigation in cooperation with the St. Charles Illinois Police Department, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, and the Federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, PCSO Computer Crimes Detective Charlie Gates arrested a local man for several counts of lewd solicitation and other acts via the Internet.  In May 2002, Detective Gates was contacted by Detective Lamela of the St. Charles Police Department in Illinois.  Det. Lamela informed Det. Gates that he had information about a Polk County resident who was soliciting children for sex via the Internet.  Through further investigation, Det. Gates identified the subject as James Fentriss Christmas, DOB 5/2/63, of 1360 Hidden Trail Court in Winter Haven. 

In September 2002, Special Agent Michele Deery, with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, assigned to the Delaware County ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force, also contacted Det. Gates, and told him that she was conducting an investigation of James Christmas for soliciting children for sex via the Internet.  Det. Gates continued his investigation  and learned Christmas was utilizing his telephone line at his residence to access American Online chat rooms, where he would attempt to solicit children for sex.

The PCSO Computer Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at Christmas' home on October 21, 2002, and seized Christmas' computer.  On November 8, 2002, the Computer Crimes Unit obtained a warrant for Christmas' arrest.  Christmas' attorney contacted PCSO later that day and arranged for Christmas to turn himself in to the Polk County Jail.  Christmas arrived at the jail around 6:50 p.m. that evening where he was placed into custody without incident.

Christmas has been charged with 2 counts Lewd Solicitation on Person under 16 years of age ($50,000 bond each), 2 counts of Soliciting a Child with a Computer for a Lewd Act, 1 count Transmitting Harmful Material to a Minor, and 3 counts Possession of Child Pornography.  Christmas posted bond and was released from jail on the same day he was booked in, November 8, 2002.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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