Seventeen men, including two Disney workers and a former middle school principal, have been arrested in a monthlong child porn investigation in central Florida, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters Friday that the operation, called “Guardians of Innocence IV: Fall Haul 2019,” was carried out by undercover detectives and a computer crimes team.
At least one of the suspects was accused of trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl he had contacted on Facebook Messenger. He was arrested at a park where he had allegedly come to meet her.
Many of the arrests, involving suspect ranging in age from 19 to 77, followed tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“The people arrested during this operation prey on the most innocent and vulnerable among us — our children," Judd said. "The undercover detectives who investigate these crimes have to see things that nobody should have to see, and no child should have to experience. Each one of these arrests has removed a predator from our streets and the internet.”
Among those arrested was Brett Kinney, 40, who told officials he was a guest experience manager at Disney World. Judd said Kinney had been with Disney's entertainment department for the last 15 years.
"This guy is scary, this guy is a deviant," Judd said at a news conference.
Kinney was charged with 24 counts of possession of child pornography. The sheriff's office said Kinney allegedly told detectives that he had an addiction to child pornography and has been viewing it for 22 years.
Also arrested was Donald Durr Jr., 52, who was charged with eight counts of possession of child porn. In an interview with detectives, Durr allegedly described himself as “a pervert, but not a monster,” according to the sheriff's office.
Durr identified himself as a custodial worker for Walt Disney World Resorts, the statement said.
A Disney representative told USA TODAY on Saturday that Kinney no longer works for the company and that Durr is on unpaid leave.
Among those arrested was William Hage, 76, who retired 18 years ago from the Polk County education system as an administrator and assistant principal. Hage faced 252 charges of enhanced possession of child pornography, Judd said.
"When we served the search warrant, he was engaged in an active chat about how to have sex with children," Judd told reporters.
Judd said both Hage and Kinney confessed to the charges.
Christopher Drennen, 20, was arrested after giving his laptop to a friend and allegedly asking that person to remove “naked pics" of children, according to the sheriff's office. The friend, after allegedly observing images of children, including one involving a 3- to 6-month-old girl, notified authorities.
Drennen was interviewed in the Polk County Jail on unrelated charges, according to the statement, when he allegedly told officers that if he did not view child pornography, he would sexually batter a child in real life. Drennen, who said he was unemployed, was charged with three counts of child pornography.
One of the suspects, Edgar Villegas, was arrested while on probation from prison where he served six years for an earlier child porn possession conviction, Judd said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney workers, 15 others arrested in Florida child porn sting