(CAÑON CITY, Colo.) — A corrections officer with the Colorado State Penitentiary is among 30 others who were arrested in a nationwide operation to arrest child sexual predators by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
45-year-old Justin Sturtevant of Pueblo West is employed with the Colorado State Penitentiary at the Cañon City Colorado Facility. Sturtevant faces the following charges:
- One count criminal use of a two-way communication device (F2)
- One count transmission of harmful material to a minor (F3)
- One count use of a computer to solicit a child for sex (F2)
Sturtevant was arrested in Colorado and will be transported to Polk County at a later date.
On Feb. 6, Sturtevant engaged in an online conversation with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl, according to a press release. During the conversation, the “girl” told Sturtevant several times that she was only 14. Despite knowing he was communicating with a minor, Sturtevant sent a sexually explicit image to the detective and instigated sexually explicit conversations.
During Sturtevant’s arrest, Sturtevant allegedly attempted to blame his actions on his 18-year-old son, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd during a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Sheriff Judd also mentioned Sturtevant’s criminal arrest history – despite being a corrections officer – which includes assault and intimidation charges from 2005, 2009, 2019 and 2020.
“Did you hear me? Did you hear what I said? He is a member of the Colorado State Corrections system as an officer and he has an arrest history,” stated Sheriff Judd. “He needs to be in prison, but it won’t be in the Colorado prison system. It’ll be in the Florida prison system.”
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 30 suspects during the two-week-long investigation known as Operation Child Protector III to arrest sexual predators targeting children. During the initiative, undercover detectives posed as children on social media platforms, mobile apps, and online dating sites to investigate those who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual activity.
According to Polk County detectives, the 30 who were arrested face a total of 75 felony and two misdemeanor charges, which include:
- Traveling to meet a minor for sex
- Attempted lewd battery
- Use of a computer to seduce a child
- Unlawful use of a two-way communication device
- Transmission of material harmful to a child
- Sexual battery
- Failure to register as a sex offender
We will continue to conduct proactive operations like this to ensure our children are safe. Thank you to our detectives and partnering agencies for your hard work to ensure our children are safe from predators who sexually abuse, groom, and corrupt our children. I say it all the time – parents need to be ‘all up in their child’s business’ when it comes to electronic devices that give them access to online gaming, mobile applications, texting, or the internet. Check their devices regularly, and ensure parental controls are enabled to keep predators like these away from your kids.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd
FOX21 News has reached out to the Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City and is waiting for a statement.