Texas Police Officer Indicted For Attempting To Entice An 11-Year-Old To Engage In Sexual Activity In Florida

Texas Police Officer Indicted For Attempting To Entice An 11-Year-Old To Engage In Sexual Activity In Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return of an indictment charging Seth Estes Vanover (50, Diana, Texas) with attempting to entice an 11-year-old child to engage in sexual activity. Vanover faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, and up to life, imprisonment, and a potential life term of supervised release. Vanover was arrested on October 12, 2022, at the Longview Police Department in Longview, Texas, where he was at the time employed as a Lieutenant with that department. Vanover’s arraignment in Jacksonville has not yet been scheduled.    

According to court documents, on July 25, 2022, an undercover FBI agent in Jacksonville began conducting an online undercover operation designed to identify and target adults who were seeking to make contact with and engage in illegal sexual activity with minor children. The undercover agent, who was posing as the parent of an 11-year-old child, posted a notice in a public chat room of an online social messaging app. That day, an individual with the user name “jattleson,” subsequently identified as Vanover, contacted the undercover agent using a private messaging feature on the app. User “jattleson” confirmed that he was “into yung” and sent the undercover agent several photos depicting child erotica and a photo of a nude adult male displaying his genitalia. User “jattleson” and the undercover agent discussed the sexual experience of the 11-year-old “child,” and user “jattleson” stated that he would “love to” meet them in Florida, would “love to be naked with” the “child,” and further used explicit language. User “jattleson” and the undercover agent engaged in more online conversations on August 8, August 10, and September 19, 2022, during which the two discussed, among other things, meeting in Florida so that user “jattleson” could engage in sexual activity with the 11-year-old “child.” User “jattleson” confirmed that the “child” was “open to have sex,” discussed details of the sexual acts that he intended to perform on the “child,” and directed the undercover agent to “[t]alk to [the “child”] about [the intended sexual activity].”

Further investigation by the FBI revealed that the user name “jattleson” had used certain internet protocol (IP) addresses on the social media app during relevant time periods that were assigned to a telephone number subscribed to by the “City of Longview,” with the physical address of the Longview Police Department and the contact name “Seth Vanover.” Other IP addresses used by user “jattleson” on the app during the relevant time period resolved to a hotel in Waco, Texas, where Vanover was a registered guest at that time, Vanover’s residence in Diana, Texas, and a telephone number listed as belonging to “Set E. Vanover” at Vanover’s residential address. This telephone number was the same number used by Vanover on a website for his fishing tour guide business.     

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.          

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Jacksonville and Tyler, Texas, with the assistance and cooperation of the Longview (Texas) Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.

This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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