Murfreesboro Man Among 12 Arrested in Tennessee Child Exploitation Crackdown

May 22, 2024 at 05:04 pm by Chandelar Williams

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MURFREESBORO, TENN. - UPDATED - A major operation targeting online child exploitation and sextortion in Tennessee has led to the arrest of 12 individuals and the identification of two dozen victims. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's (TBI) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force conducted "Operation Protecting Tomorrow" over three months, from February to April, across 21 counties with the help of nearly 20 law enforcement partners.
John Vincent, 53, of Murfreesboro, was charged with two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. He is one of 12 people arrested in the operation, which aimed to rescue children from sextortion and online sexual exploitation and apprehend those exploiting them. The operation was driven by tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), undercover investigations, and community reports.
The task force identified 18 child victims in Tennessee and one in Alabama. They are working to locate an additional 22 victims, aged 11 to 17. During the operation, agents executed 10 search warrants, seizing 181 electronic devices and a child sex doll. Preliminary examinations uncovered over 264,000 images and videos of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

TBI Assistant Special Agent Rob Burkhart said another prevalent problem is something that law enforcement call Sextortion... The suspects in Sextortion cases range in age from teenagers to those who are 60 plus years old. As mentioned by Burkhart, young boys to teens are often the target of such crimes.

Burkhart investigates online predatory cases involving children on a daily basis. He is in charge of the TBI Internet Crime Unit.

Other arrested individuals include:
- Courtney Staggs, 29, Jamestown: Multiple counts including Aggravated Rape of a  Child and Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Cody Wilson, 31, Columbia: Solicitation of a Minor and related charges
- Kyle Shaddon, 28, Paris: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Justin Farris, 41, Paris: Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
Marcus Puryear, 47, Somerville: Numerous counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Shawn Steven, 32, Decatur: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Cody Gunter, 29, Niota: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Solicitation of a Minor
- Johnathan Curtis, 32, McMinnville: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Clifton Johnston, 38, McMinnville**: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Garry Alford, 42, McMinnville: Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
- Ernest Brown, 45, Paris: Multiple counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
More arrests are expected as the forensic analysis of seized devices continues. The TBI's operation underscores a significant effort to combat online child exploitation in Tennessee.
FROM THE TBI: The following 19 agencies assisted the TBI in Operation Protecting Tomorrow: Athens Police Department, 9th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office (ICAC), 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, Maury County Sheriff’s Department, McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, McMinnville Police Department, Meigs County Sheriff’s Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Bowie County, Texas Sheriff’s Department (ICAC), Lansing, Illinois Police Department, Texarkana, Texas Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Homeland Security Investigations, United States Secret Service.

The massive volume of vile images and videos our agents uncovered – and the number of suspects identified, and victims helped during this operation – should trouble every Tennessean,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “The internet is a dangerous place, full of predators looking for their next young victim. We’re doing our part at TBI, but every parent, grandparent, and caregiver must also be vigilant. Help your children know the dangers and know what to do if they’re scared, confused, or asked to do the wrong thing online.”

The TBI has information about online dangers, sextortion, and common-sense tips for the public on its website, at Parents and caregivers looking for resources aimed at helping children develop online safety skills should visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website, at

DISCLAIMER: All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The arrest records or information about an arrest that are published or reported on NewsRadio WGNS and are not an indication of guilt or evidence that an actual crime has been committed.
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