Gary Schatz of Sunrise, Florida was arrested on after he allegedly tried to coerce someone he thought was a 15-year-old boy to perform sex acts with him, according to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Schatz, 59, was apprehended on a federal charge of enticement of a minor over the Internet, for which he was detained in a local federal detention center. It remains unclear whether Schatz has hired a private criminal defense attorney.
According to the press release, the investigation into the alleged sex offense was conducted by the South Florida Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and the Homeland Security Investigations sector of Immigrations and Customs enforcement. The investigation was reportedly part of Project Safe Childhood, which is described in the press release as “a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.” The Project is evidently dedicated to apprehending sex offenders who use the Internet to commit sex crimes against minors. Schatz could face up to life in prison as a well as lifetime mandatory sex offender status if found guilty as charged, but it is important to note that he is innocent until proven otherwise.
The affidavit reportedly indicates that the alleged offense occurred on June 14, 2012. Schatz allegedly used what was described as an “on-line social networking application,” possibly Facebook, to contact someone he thought was a 15-year-old boy. However, the person Schatz allegedly contacted was actually an undercover detective working in cooperation with Project Safe Childhood. Schatz allegedly tried to convince the ‘teen’ to meet him for sexual activity using text messages, offering to bring an iPad with him so he and the teen could watch porn. The actual place of arrest is not specified; oftentimes such stings lure alleged offenders to a location, such as a house, with the promise of meeting the minor for sexual activity. Schatz does not appear to have commented publicly on the allegations.
Schatz is hardly the only South Floridian to come under fire for alleged sex offenses involving minors lately. In Clearwater, Florida, officials have just decided not to pursue charges against Eric Antunes, who has already been accused of child pornography possession, for performing oral sex acts with a dog. Antunes, 29, is reportedly already facing three counts of possession, control or intentional viewing of child pornography. The incident has raised concerns that a loophole in the law that does not explicitly ban oral sex acts with animals.
According to news reports, Antunes had his computer searched earlier this year after an anonymous tipster claimed that the computer contained child pornography. A search purportedly revealed child pornography as well as videos of Antunes performing sex acts with his girlfriend’s dog Ruby. The girlfriend in question, Katerina Willaimson, reportedly quit her job as the medical director of the Pinellas County Humane Society when Antunes was arrested on May 1. He had also worked at the Humane Society as a contract employee, sources indicate. Antunes has not commented publicly on the allegations.