So if you have followed me and my work know that I was working on a film about sexual violence. The idea came to me in 2011 after watching a friend do advocacy in stopping it. Those who followed me knew that I had teamed up with the very talented screenplay writer Semone Fournillier. She wrote a first draft for the film, and she and I we were researching the topic. I was doing research by going into chat rooms that dealt with sex, where I spoke to a lot of people: Victims and perpetrators. I reported as many predators as I could, and gave advice and websites information to survivors of sexual abuse. Website like RAINN.org Then I was arrested on 13 Feb 13: Electronic solicitation of a minor and traveling to meet the child and her mom. This is the farthest thing from the truth. As a matter of fact 10 days before I had set up a meeting with the mother and called the police to let them know that a mother was trying to find men to have sex with her daughter and that I had set up a meeting so that they could arrest her. Here is what really happened and how you can help me. Please share my story and help me clear my name. As for the film I was working on: It is now a film that deals with sex trafficking in America and combat veterans issues.
This is what happened:
So a little about me…I come from a broken family. My Mother was severely mentally ill and my Father was an alcoholic who committed suicide when I was 12. I should be a statistic, dead or in Prison, but instead I joined the army when I was 20. I became a paratrooper, Airborne Infantry 11B1P, in the 82nd Airborne Division where I, eventually, became a Team Leader. I was going to Ranger School, re-enlist, join Special Forces and make a career in the army, but in May of ‘94 I broke my back on a jump. I was medically retired in 95. In 2003, my injuries came back to haunt me and I was unable work. I fought against the VA for benefits which I deserved, creating a very difficult time for me. It was during this time that I became an alcoholic. In 2009 I went to rehab and haven’t drank since.
I am, also, a filmmaker. When I realized I was not going to go to film school, I decided to teach myself and gained the respect of the film community for being a very knowledgeable and motivated filmmaker. I was, and am, a leader in my community: I was on the Board of Directors for a film organization and on the advisory board for a local college. I now work with a group to ensure that veterans are receiving excellent mental health care at the VA, which I sympathize.
As you can see, I am a self-made man. I have cultivated myself, and have worked hard at it. For those who have been following my work, they know I have been developing a film on sexual violence, which is now about sex trafficking. I wrote about it in my film blog, discussed it with people in the community and gave copies of the script to people close to me. This was inspired, in the summer of 2011, by the work of a friend, Marilyn Bray, who has worked tirelessly to end sexual violence. She worked at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay as a manager and has been involved with the Take Back the Night campaign.
In 2011 I teamed up with the very talented writer, who in 2014 graduated from (AFI) American Film Institute, Semone Fournillier. For research, we went to the Crisis Center to get a better understanding of sexual violence. We also read numerous articles.Semone began writing the screenplay and in May of 2012 and sent me the 1st rough draft (which I have along with the email that contains it, and is registered with the Writers Guild West.) It was good but needed work. It explored topics like underage prostitution, pedophiles, and predators who prey on children. This was heavy subject matter that needed to be addressed and looked into.
In my continuing research, I found a website which kept coming up that had chat rooms where, I discovered, both predators and victims go. There I was able to chat and interview both victims of sexual abuse and predators. For victims, I would give them information for where they could go for help based off of their zip code and would encourage them to turn in their abuser.
With predators, however, I would gain their trust and would get them to begin chatting on Yahoo messenger. There, I would get them to give details of what crimes they were committing or had in the past done. With this information, I would report them using Yahoo’s Harm or Threat to a Child Abuse page where you can report people who pose a threat to children. I would copy and paste our chats and include them in the reports. Other times, if I knew enough information, I would report them to their local or state authorities. I got very good at posing as predator and very good at getting information. I learned that you have to talk a certain way. I, also, learned to ask a lot of leading questions. This is something I did throughout this situation. Is it disturbing? Yes, but we are talking about some heinous people with serious sexual dysfunctions.
On 8 Feb, I noticed a screen name that indicated that the person was a mom in Florida and upon my reading her profile, she was a pedophile mom. I messaged her and she told me she was looking for men to have sex with her 10 year old daughter. We soon began to chat on yahoo messenger, which I used to interview people, as I mentioned before. It also allowed me to turn predators in. I then went to the website chat room, found a moderator and told him that the woman was trying to find men to have sex with her daughter. He then banned her. Soon after that she was banned, she asked if I had gotten her kicked off the site and I told her no I hadn’t. I asked her where she lived and she told me that she resided in Sarasota. As we were chatting on Yahoo, our conversations implicated her and her intentions, so, then, I went to Yahoo’s Threat and Abuse to Minors report page. I gave them all the necessary information and copied and pasted our conversation.
Since she lived in Sarasota, I came up with a plan to get her arrested. I planned on setting up a meeting, then call the police and give them all the information needed and get her arrested. I set up a meeting for that night and finally got her address. I looked up the Sarasota Sheriffs phone number, then I told her that I was on my way to Sarasota and it would take me about an hour to get there. Right after that I called the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department. I spoke with the first deputy and told him every bit of information I had and everything that was supposed to happen, also that she was expecting me in an hour. We got off the phone and 5 minutes later another deputy called me. Once again I gave him all the information. We got off the phone and in 5 minutes another deputy called me and once again I gave him the information I had and that she was expecting me to be there in 50 minutes. He then told me that on Monday detectives would be calling me. I waited and about an hour and a half later she wrote me asking me if I was on my way. I told her no. Then, soon after that she asked me if I had called the police on her which I emphatically denied.
I was livid at the police, to say the least. I was thinking, how could they have blown this. It was so simple. But here is what I did not know, I called the police on police. Yes, I called the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Later, when I called the “mom” it confirmed to the FDLE that it was me who had called the police because my number matched up with the number Sarasota Sheriffs given them. So the FDLE agents then decided to continue pretending to be a mom looking for a man to have sex with her daughter, even though I had set up a meeting with her and called the Sheriffs. I continued to pretend I was a predator, unaware of what was happening, and I played the part well. Too well.
The next day we continued to converse. She acted like she was freaked out from the police showing up, so I tried to calm her down. I even told her to delete her yahoo account knowing that our conversations were on a server somewhere. Same goes for text messages. I was trying to be as believable as I could be. I did this know that nothing would be erased and that all of her communications were saved. I was also trying to figure out how she did not get arrested, so I asked if her daughter knew how to keep secrets? What she said was chilling: she said that, she had told her daughter if she had said a word about anything, “that her happy life would go away, that she would never see her mom again, and that all of her friends would go away…no more parties, no more sleep overs and no more pretty dresses. I had asked her if she had been talking to any other men and she said she had; however, she liked the way I talked, so I continued to talk the way I did. Later, I told her that I would be down that night and for her to find a friend for her son to spend the night with. She said she would.
Instead of going down to Sarasota that night, however, I went to the Hub bar and watched a band play. By me telling her I would be down that night, she would not schedule anyone else to come to see her daughter and would stay up waiting for me. I want to make a huge point here: if I really wanted to have sex with her daughter I would have went down to Sarasota that night. Now if it was a sting, I had the perfect cover because I had called the night before. I would have been able to say, “Hey I called last night, but you did nothing. I came here tonight so I could force you to do something.” I had the PERFECT COVER. But instead I went to bar to see a band play, leaving them waiting.
Monday 11 Feb: On Friday, the Sheriff’s Deputy had told me that detectives would be calling me on Monday; which why I never called the Sheriffs back. I figured the detectives would be more competent than the deputies. So I waited and waited and waited. No call. Next day I waited and still, no call. I had decided that if they did not call by Wednesday I would get her arrested here in Tampa. They never did, so I setup a meeting for Thursday night. My plan was simple, when she was on her way I would call the police and have them waiting there for her. Then she called and said she had to cancel and that she would call me the next day. The next day she contacted me first, as she always did, and she explained to me that she did not come the night before because she did not want her daughter to miss a day of school. I thought this to be a strange answer, because here she is wanting her daughter to have sex with a grown man but did not want her to miss a day of school. This would play a part in me not thinking she was real.
Finally, on Monday 18 Feb, we decided to meet that night. Here is something I did, though, contrary to our normal conversations…I tried to talk her out of coming to Tampa and talk some sense into her. Her getting arrested and everything that would happen would be very traumatic to the daughter, so I asked the mom,” Are you absolutely sure that you want to do this? This could be very detrimental on your relationship as well as to her. Why don’t you take a day or two to think about it?”
Before I could finish she said, “No, no, no…”, she was absolutely sure. A little bit later, she mentioned her boyfriend, whose name before was Bill or Brad before, but was now Mike. A complete name change of her boyfriend. This would be one of many reasons I did not call the police that night. Not much was adding up. The biggest thing was her boyfriend’s name changing. Also, the fact that nothing had happened to her when the police showed up and that the police never followed up with me. Their detectives never connected me. Also my gut said that this was a hoax.
Now it was time to meet up. She was continuing to pretend, so I decided to meet up, just in case I was wrong and there was in fact there was a 10 year old girl needing to be saved.
I went to meet her, however, I did not call the police and here is why:
- I never spoke to or seen a picture of her daughter.
- Her boyfriend’s name changed.
- The picture sent me really of her didn’t look that much like the one in her profile.
- The excuse about not coming up the Thursday before as well as other excuses.
However, if the daughter had been real, I had a simple plan to get the mom arrested: once we got back at my house I would call 911 and then hang up. When you do this, 911 immediately calls you back. Then I would tell the mom that it was a business call and leave the room, explain the situation and wait for the police to show up and arrest the mom thereby saving the daughter. The police had a lot to go off of, the Sarasota Sheriff call, text messages, and yahoo chat logs. I went to the meet because what if there was a 10 year old needed to be saved? Yes, it was incredibly stupid for not covering my ass by calling the police, but I did what I thought was right, and I was not trying to have sex with a little girl. But, as I said before, a big part of me thought this was a hoax.
Was I convincing? Absolutely. Once at the moms prompting, I would create situations then I would ask her what she thought of them? I wanted to know what this person was about and capable of. Also, keep in mind that I have a lot of experience dealing with these people. So I know how to talk to them. I went as far as saying I had viewed and had in my possession child pornography, which we know I did not have because they didn’t find any on my computers or from my internet records. The FDLE had forensic computer experts go through 2 computers of mine and found absolutely nothing.
Also, look at what was on my plate at the time. The year I was arrested, 2013, I had 4 shorts films to produce, one was about to start an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign and go into preproduction. I was researching 3 films. One of which was a documentary on South Sudan which I was directing and producing. For that film, I was scrambling to raise funds so that I could take my film crew up to Washington D.C. for the Jonglei Peace Conference. In addition to that, I was on the Board of Directors for a film organization, with which I also did their social media outreach and on an Advisory Board for a local college. I would work from the time I woke up until I went to bed, if I went to bed.
Why I took a plea deal.
I entered in the plea (in best interest plea deal) for a few a reason: first, jury trials are a crap shoot. I would have 6 people not 12 deciding my fate; and as we know all too well, many innocent people rot in prison because a jury got it wrong. You also do not know the pride or prejudices of the jurors, and with a charge of this nature they may have only heard the charge and nothing else. Here’s a question I considered, would the jury have been given the chance to get to know who I am? I don’t know. Would they hear the case or just the charge? I was looking down the barrel of 30 plus years in prison, if convicted. No ifs, and, or buts. There would be no second chances or best 2 out of 3. My life would have been over, and I would be marked for the rest of my life as a violent sexual offender. Considering all of this information, I listened to my council of friends, my lawyer, who would have taken this to trial, and to my best friend. I talked to people who know how our system works and have had a lot of experience with the judicial system. I do not have faith in our judicial system. I haven’t for a long time now. The system is set up to incarcerate and put as many people into that system as it can.
So, I took the plea deal and plead to a 3rd degree felony of Child Neglect with 5 years probation and is ADJUDICATED even though the DA admitted in court, before a judge, that I was innocent and did not have ill intent. So I am going to be for the rest of my life a felon and will follow me for the rest of my life. I have lost many rights and will be discriminated because of this felony. This includes my 2nd amendment rights. Again, the DA admitted in court I was innocent. That is the American Judicial System. Everyone knows I am innocent including the DA, but I will be a felon for the rest of my life. This is how messed up the American judicial system is. In America, you can be innocent but still become a felon.
If you feel this is wrong call or write the DA and let them know. Tell them how you feel and ask them to turn my felony to Non-Adjudicated: you can write the Honorable Andrew H. Warren, State Attorney, at 419 N. Pierce Street, Tampa, Florida 33602 or better yet call him at 813-272-5400 or you can contact Contact Courtney Derry at Derry_C@sao13th.com. Her number is also 813-272- 5400.
So yes, I am innocent. I was trying to prevent child sexual abuse of a 10 year old girl, not commit it. My crime is that I went all out to try to save a little girl, but went about it the wrong way. That’s it.
Those who know me know I could never hurt a child, especially like that, but I would do whatever it took to save one. You can ask anyone who knows me about my character and who I am. There are many people that will attest to my character. I am proud of the fact that I turned in so many predators. I am also proud of the film I am developing and the work I plan to do.
Look, I am not here to beat up on the District Attorney. They have a very tough job, and they do a great job. I understand that. They have to go and bear witness to some of the worst offenses that our society commits. I have a lot of respect for them and what they do, which is to protect our society, but they are beholden to the system that is the American judicial system. They admit on record several times either through words or deeds that I am innocent, yet I they stick me with a felony and probation. It doesn’t make sense. And let’s be honest with ourselves, I should have never been charged. The judicial system is designed to create felons
So what have I been and will be doing? I never stopped being a filmmaker, nor a creator of content. Like I said, I am developing my film on sex trafficking and combat veteran’s issues. This is a very personal film to me. I also am developing my own series that will be shot in the Tampa Bay area. I love this city and want to see the best out of it. I have long term goals here in Tampa, like bringing film financiers to this area so that the Tampa Bay film industry can grow and become a powerhouse in filmmaking, TV and content. I also will be starting my film production company. If you want to be involved contact me and let me know. I could use all the help I can get.
I, also, want to start a serious film society like San Francisco, Minneapolis and New York City has. Tampa needs and deserves one and it is disservice not to have one. It will celebrate cinema and filmmakers. Filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola, Sergio Leone and Mike Nichols. It will teach media literacy to both students and adults. And it will have programs to help talented upcoming filmmakers. I will again take up a leadership role in Tampa. As I was did before my arrest I believe there are talented people in this area and that the Bay Area can become much bigger than what it is now, but it is going to take leadership to make that happen. I also have been doing activism for veterans and to end sex trafficking. I have been involved with a veteran’s group that deals with mental health issues. I also will be involved in ending sex trafficking and sexual violence. Also, with what I have learned I realize just how important aftercare for victims is. I would like to see what I can do as far as bringing awareness of aftercare and to help setup and finance facilities and programs. These issues are important to me and I plan to work on these subjects.
If you wish to contact my attorney Jorge Chalela firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-415- 4286
And if you wish to contact me email at email@example.com