LAKELAND – An engineering student from Gainesville, who was on probation for traveling to meet a 14-year-old girl to have sex with her, is now in the Polk County Jail after detectives say the mother of a teenage girl contacted them to saw the male students had come to Polk County to have sex with her daughter, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Steven Matthew Nixon, 22, of 920 Southwest 6th St. in Gainesville, was arrested by Polk County detectives on Saturday, Jan. 7, and charged with traveling to Polk County to have sex with a 14-year-old child.
The sheriff’s office, in its release on this arrest, noted that Nixon had a history of seeking out sex with underage girls.
“Nixon was arrested in August 2010 for traveling to meet a minor and lewd and lascivious conduct,” said Donna C. Wood, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. “He had contacted the victim, another 14-year-old girl, and solicited her for sex via another social website.”
At that time, Wood noted, the engineering student had driven from Brandon to Polk County to meet the victim for sex.
“Nixon picked the victim up at her residence and attempted to engage the victim in sexual activity,” Wood noted. “The victim pulled away and was unharmed.”
Despite being on probation for that incident, Wood noted, Nixon began contacting teenage girls again, starting last summer.
In June 2011, the sheriff’s office noted, Nixon met a 14-year-old female online and developed a relationship with her.
“From June through November 2011, Nixon traveled from Gainesville to Polk County to engage in sex with the 14-year-old victim,” Wood noted, adding that her learned about it when the mother of that girl called them.
“The victim’s mother discovered the relationship in December after overhearing her daughter discuss the relationship with another female,” Wood noted. “The victim’s mother contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office about what she had learned.”
After being contacted by the victim’s mother, detectives traveled to Gainesville and arrested Nixon at his home last Saturday. He was charged with lewd and lascivious battery, traveling to meet a minor, and solicitation of a minor. He was booked into the Polk County Jail, and isn’t likely to get out anytime soon, since he was booked on no bond.
Wood noted that when he got arrested on Saturday, Nixon was on probation for the 2010 charges.
Detectives said when Nixon was being arrested, he told them he had a full academic scholarship for an engineering degree at the University of Florida.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Nixon would likely to spent more time in jail than college in the immediate future.
“His ‘free’ ride to school is over,” Judd said. “Instead, we gave him a ‘free’ ride to the Polk County Jail.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has raised a high profile law enforcement tactics that take aim at adults who seek out sex with minors, often setting up undercover stings that targets sexual predators seeking to find minors over the Internet – unaware, in most cases, that they’re actually chatting online with undercover detectives.
In December, seven men from across Central Florida were arrested and charged with engaging in sexually explicit online chats, text messages and telephone calls with girls and boys ages 10 to 14 — only to discover that when they showed up in Polk County to meet with these minors, the kids were actually detectives participating in the online sting.
When the arrests were made, Judd sent out a news release noting, “A number of those who chatted illegally online did not agree to come to the designated location, saying Polk County was too much of a risk. It appears our undercover investigations are deterring some from trying to have sex with children.”
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