Disney World workers arrested in underage sex sting

Posted at 7:45 AM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 08:02:08-05

(CNN) -- Florida authorities Wednesday announced the arrests of 22 people, including three who listed Walt Disney World as their employer, in a sting of people allegedly targeting children for sexual activity.

The arrests came after a week-long investigation involving the Lake County sheriff's cyber crimes unit in central Florida and other agencies.

In the sting, which was called "Be Mine," detectives posed as children, or parents of children, in various online chat forums to connect with suspects seeking children for sex, authorities said.

A vacant home was set up as a meeting place for the encounters, authorities said. As the detectives were solicited for sex, arrangements were made for the suspects to travel to the home for what they believed would be sex with a child. Upon arrival, the suspects were arrested.

One suspect, identified as David Griffith, 47, allegedly told detectives that he had recently made arrangements to meet a 7-year-old child in another county for sex. After reviewing his e-mails, detectives found conversations between Griffith and the 7-year-old's mother.

When the child was interviewed, she told investigators that her mother had sexually abused her, police said.

Marilyn Waters, a Disney spokeswoman, said three of the suspects listed their employers  as Walt Disney World. They have been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the cases.

The nature of their jobs was not known.

The charges against the suspects included soliciting a child for sexual acts, traveling to meet a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution and failing to disclose HIV status to a sexual partner.