On Thursday, January 31, 2013, Polk County Sheriff's Undercover Computer Crimes detectives arrested an Auburndale man who began chatting with central Florida undercover detectives earlier this month during "Operation Cardea" in Seminole County.
According to the affidavit, 52-year-old Dennis Ray Steelman (DOB 7/3/1960) of 409 Walnut Street in Auburndale, was chatting online with undercover detectives during "Operation Cardea," a Central Florida ICAC Task Force operation hosted by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office earlier this month. Detectives working on that task force made 50 arrests and announced their results on January 14, 2013.
The same day the announcement was made of those arrests, Steelman continued his email conversation with whom he thought was an aunt looking for someone to "teach" her 11-year-old niece. The detective turned over the email conversation to a Polk County Sheriff's undercover detective at that time, and the conversations continued.
Through emails and texts, Steelman agreed to travel from Auburndale to an undisclosed location in Davenport to have sex with the 11-year-old girl. When he arrived in Davenport, he was arrested without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail.
Steelman has been charged with: 1 count Traveling to Meet a Minor (F-2); 1 count Use of Computer to Solicit a Guardian to Consent to Sexual Conduct (F-3); 1 count Use of Two-Way Communication Device to Commit a Felony (F-3); and 1 count Sexual Battery on a Minor Under 12 Years of Age (F-Capital).
"We have said for years that men who prey on children will stop at nothing to sexually abuse a child. The very same day our partners on the ICAC Task Force publicized their successful apprehension of 50 suspects who wanted to travel across central Florida to have sex with children, Dennis Steelman continued emailing who he thought was the aunt of an 11-year-old girl to discuss sexually abusing the child. This is simply unbelievable. Suspects like Steelman are the reason we create these task forces, and the reason we work so hard together to put predators like these behind bars." - Sheriff Grady Judd