On Friday, January 8, 2016, PCSO detectives obtained an arrest warrant for 24-year-old Joshua Austin of 189 West Walnut Street in Perry, FL, charging him with one count each Lewd & Lascivious Conduct, Transmission of Material Harmful to Minor, Contributing to Delinquency of a Minor, and Felony Use of Two-Way Communication Device;
he was placed under arrest by the Taylor County Sheriff's Office and booked into the Taylor County Jail, awaiting extradition to Polk County.
According to the affidavit, in August 2015, the suspect met the 15-year-old Polk County female victim online in a website chatroom. The suspect and victim continued to communicate via text messages, KIK messenger, and Skype messenger. The suspect and the victim entered into an online dating relationship.
During the relationship, the suspect mailed the victim sex toys and condoms.
The victim's father found the hidden items in her bedroom, and the victim advised they were sent by the suspect. The father called the suspect and told him to leave his daughter alone, that she was only 15 years old. At that time, the suspect told the victim's father that he was 20 years old.
In January 2016, the victim's father saw evidence on his daughter's cell phone that she was still communicating with the suspect, and the father contacted PCSO.
During the investigation, the victim advised they were texting on KIK and Skype and the conversation was sexual in nature. Videos and photos of a sexual nature we exchanged between the victim and the suspect. This evidence was seized by detectives.
PCSO detectives traveled to Perry, Florida, and interviewed Austin. The suspect admitted to texting the victim online. The suspect admitted to having a sexual conversation with the victim and to sending and receiving nude photographs and videos. The suspect also admitted to purchasing and sending the victim sex toys, and offering to buy the victim new sex toys after they were confiscated by her father.
Based on the investigation, PCSO detectives determined the suspect, Joshua Austin (DOB 03-06-1991) violated:
F.S.S. 847.0138 for Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor when the suspect intentionally and unlawfully sent a video of himself masturbating, knowing the victim was a minor. The suspect is 24 years of age and the victim is 15 years of age.
F.S.S. 934.215 for Felony Use of a 2-way Communication Device when the suspect intentionally and unlawfully used his cell phone and internet to have a sexual and lewd relationship with a minor.
F.S.S. 800.04(6)(A) for Lewd and Lascivious Conduct when the suspect intentionally and unlawfully solicited the minor victim to commit a lewd and lascivious act upon herself.
F.S.S. 827.04(1)(B) for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor when the suspect intentionally and unlawfully purchased the minor victim sex toys and encouraged her to use them.
"This investigation is another example of how easy it is for online predators to victimize children living in Polk County, and how parental involvement is the first step in helping law enforcement put predators like this behind bars. Joshua Austin just learned that you don't mess with children in Polk County." - Sheriff Grady Judd