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Former UVa. official, youth minister pleads guilty to soliciting a 14-year-old

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 19:10:18-05

LOUISA, Va. —  A former University of Virginia official who previously created a website for sex addicts was convicted Monday on four counts of solicitation of a minor.

Jonathan A. Schyner, 54,  was also a youth minister who refereed soccer games for youth, high school and college leagues at an  Episcopal Church. He was employed at UVa from 1997 to 2009, with his last position being Associate Director and Assessment Coordinator in Institutional Assessment.

Schnyer solicited who he thought was a 14-year-old female over the course of nine months, from April 2014 to January 2015, according to Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty E. McGuire. After an investigation by the Detective Charles Love, Schnyer was identified and arrested.

After an investigation by the Detective Charles Love, Schnyer was identified and arrested.

“Mr. Schnyer’s pattern of conduct caught up with him,” McGuire said. “He attempted to engage in this behavior without any regard for the innocence of a child.  We hope these convictions send the message that any effort to harm children will be met with severe repercussions.”

The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on February 29, 2016 and faces up to 120 years in prison.

The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office previously said Schyner created a website for sex addicts that featured 12 questions for self-diagnosis with a goal of recovery.

“A fellowship of men and women who share our experience, strength and hope with each other so we may overcome sexual and emotional addiction and help others do the same,” the website stated.

The undercover operation that resulted in Schyner’s arrest also resulted in the arrest of 28-year-old Ray Calvin Lester. The Madison County man was arrested January 5 outside the Arby’s in Zions Crossroads.

He was nabbed as part of a Craigslist sting conducted by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, Albemarle Police Department and the SOVA Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Knowing the predators would prey when the children were on break from school, the agencies set up their sting during the 2014-2015 winter furlough.

Lester believed he was soliciting a 14 year-old-girl for sexual acts with a plan to meet near her house in Louisa.  Members of the Task Force immediately arrested Lester and searched his vehicle.

During the search of the vehicle, the officers found a pistol in the driver’s side door and rope in the vicinity of the console.

Speaking on the conviction, Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire , said “this case is an example of why it is a priority to police the Internet.  Only Lester knows why he had a gun and rope for a meeting with a child but the officers ensured it was not used.  If the Task Force was not active online placing a shield over Louisa’s children Mr. Lester would have likely met a real child.”

At the time of his arrest Lester was employed as a driver by a local contracting company. He had previously worked as a dispatcher for Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office, investigators said.

He was also a volunteer at Reva Fire and Rescue in Culpeper and a volunteer for Madison County Fire and Rescue. He was married and had a three-year-old daughter.

He was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison with ten years suspended for two counts of solicitation of a minor.