If you drive north of Chattanooga for about 140 miles, you will come to Pall Mall. The small town in Tennessee’s Wolf River valley has fewer than 2,000 residents. According to news reports, a couple from the Fentress County burg were recently among the 24 people arrested in an internet sting operation.
“Operation Just Cause” resulted in two dozen arrests on a wide variety of sex crime charges in an area stretching from Kansas to Wisconsin and from Florida and Georgia to Pall Mall. Suspects range in age from 19 to 65 and face charges that include distribution of child pornography, aggravated child molestation, illegal solicitation, trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude, and sexual exploitation of children.
Officials said additional charges might be filed later. They said that all of those arrested engaged in sexually explicit online communications with undercover investigators who the suspects believed were minors.
“The goal of ‘Operation Just Cause’ was to arrest persons who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” law enforcement officials said in a released statement.
Authorities acknowledged that some of the websites involved in the case identify themselves as “adult-only,” but that minors will sometimes access the sites and “establish profiles claiming to be older.”
Officials allege that the Tennessee couple – a 25-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman – traveled to Georgia to have sex with a minor. Law enforcement officers say the pair brought their two-year-old child along on the trip.
It’s always important to remember that allegations are not evidence of guilt and that those who face these kinds of serious charges should decline to speak to investigators. They should speak instead to a skilled criminal defense attorney experienced in sex crimes defense.