CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — A Clay County man is accused of forcing a 15-year-old girl to have sex with men and directing those men to get video of the acts, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“We can never live in a society where pedophilia is normal,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
Randy Coffelt Jr., 44, of Middleburg, was arrested and is facing the following charges:
- Human trafficking
- Promoting a sexual performance by a child
- Using a minor in production of computer pornography
- Seduction of a child using the internet
- Transmission of child sexual abuse material
“This vile man groomed and then exploited a teenage girl by forcing her to perform sexual acts with other men in exchange for videos of the acts as payment. Thankfully, this predator is now behind bars and will face justice for his crimes,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said during a news conference on Thursday.
In April, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office began investigating when it learned of allegations that Coffelt “had forced a minor victim to commit various sexual acts with other adult males, who recorded the child sexual abuse,” according to a release from FDLE.
“From the very beginning a 44 year old male knows she is 15 years old and he says I don’t care,” Nocco said. “This is where the tragedy just keeps going out of control.”
Coffelt first contacted the victim over an online chat platform in December 2022 and then started contacting her through text message and email, “where the conversations became sexually explicit,” the release from the FDLE said.
“Randy starts manipulating her through these conversations to the fact that the victim believes that he loves her like a boyfriend-girlfriend situation, and she wants to make him happy,” Nocco said.
Investigators found “that Coffelt uploaded nude photos of the minor to a pornographic website and created a profile advertising her for sex,” FDLE said.
Coffelt began coordinating meetings between the victim and men from the website and directed the girl to engage in sexual acts with the men, told the men to record the acts and then send them back to him “as payment,” FDLE said.
“This suspect was a master groomer in the most reprehensible sense of the term, manipulating and exploiting a vulnerable minor for his own twisted gains. I am grateful to FDLE’s agents and analysts, the investigators at Pasco Sheriff’s Office, Pasco County victim advocates and the prosecutors at Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution for their work on this case to ensure that his days of preying on our youth are over,” FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said.
Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson has decades of law enforcement experience and says this is called grooming – and it happens over a period of time.
“Children are typically susceptible to the enticement by adults because adults are more sophisticated, and the child wants to please the adults – and that’s how the grooming is progresses,” Carson said. “And it’s insidious.”
FDLE agents secured a search warrant for Coffelt’s residence in Clay County and the warrant was executed on Saturday. Agents seized several electronic devices for forensic examination and took Coffelt into custody.
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The Clay County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrest and Coffelt was booked into the Clay County Jail on a $375,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by Moody’s office.
“We are proud of the Pasco Sheriff’s members for initiating this case and the FDLE and Clay Sheriff’s Office for their partnership in bringing these criminals to justice. Our main focus is to assist the young victim in this case and to prevent others from falling victim to these manipulating predators,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
Investigators believe that there may be additional victims, and anyone with information is urged to call FDLE’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-FLA-SAFE (855-352-7233) or the Pasco Sheriff’s Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488.