A Florida firefighter working with Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department was arrested on Tuesday for exchanging online messages of a sexual nature with a person that he believed was a 14-year-old girl. In actuality, the man had been speaking with an undercover detective impersonating the teenager for over three months.
In an attempt to better protect children from online sexual predators St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office launched “Operation Cruel Summer.” This project involves detectives posing as youth and visiting internet chat sites to engage in conversations with people seeking sexual relations with children.
The detective who purportedly spoke with 53-year-old David Eugene Labelle, the accused, had responded to an ad found online on July 27. Under the heading “Naughty Daughter,” the ad Labelle is accused of posting said, “Hi, how are you doing today? I would like to talk to you and let’s see what we can come up with. I have been looking for my naughty little girl. I am a 53 year old white married man.”
Labelle allegedly replied to the undercover agent through email, and the content became more personal in nature over time. He began outlining specifics about the sexual acts he wanted to perform with her, and asked questions about establishments near her home so that they could meet in person.
It was also said that Labelle took pictures of himself that he shared in the emails, in some of which he was wearing his firefighter badge. The interior of Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department’s Station 27 was depicted in one of the images, and the arrest warrant stated that Labelle was working at Station 27 the day that the picture was digitally shared.
Labelle was taken to Duval County Jail and charged with soliciting a child or person believed to be a child for unlawful sexual conduct using a computer, and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device, both third-degree felonies. His bond was set at $20,000.
Spokesman Tom Francis for JFRD reported that Labelle had been employed with them since 2003 and he was immediately removed from active field duty.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a sexual offense, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.