Former Gator, Red Sox player snared in child sex sting

A former University of Florida baseball star who went on to play a season with the Boston Red Sox was among 27 men arrested in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s recent sting targeting men who prey on children.

Suspects in the multiagency undercover operation ranged in age from 19 to 69 years old, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Charges ranged from coercing sexual activity to human trafficking. 

“The undercover detectives are doing their best to identify and arrest these individuals that are on the internet trying to sexually exploit children,” Lt. Justin Wilson of the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit said.

How did Operation Valiant Knights work?

Task force members posed as children in undercover chats online to communicate with potential predators to meet up with underage girls for sexual encounters. Instead they were met by SWAT and narcotics detectives.

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One showed up armed with a handgun and drugs. Another was still in his work scrubs from a hospital to meet who he thought was an 8-year-old child, the Sheriff’s Office said. And another was a Duval County Public Schools maintenance man who even sent a nude photo of himself to the undercover detective who he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

What does Austin Maddox’s arrest report say?

Maddox’s arrest report states he was using a website for an escort service and initiated a conversation with one of the undercover agents posing as a 14-year-old girl and continued chatting over text messages.

After being told the girl was 14, the response said, “That’s young, baby. I get in trouble for that. You can’t even drive. You gonna stay with me all night?’

The messages became much more vulgar and explicit after that, according to the report. The messages also requested her to send nude photos to him and also advised he was 32 (Maddox since turned 33 on May 13 in jail) and even has a stepdaughter who’s a similar age to the girl he reportedly believed he was chatting with.

Maddox was taken into custody at the prearranged meeting place.

What does Austin Maddox’s attorney say?

Maddox’s private attorney, James P. Hill, provided the following statement on his behalf: “Mr. Maddox intends to fight the allegations against him and will enter a plea of not guilty should formal charges be filed.”

How successful was Austin Maddox in his baseball career?

Maddox was initially drafted in the 37th round out of Eagle’s View Academy in Jacksonville by the Tampa Bay Rays but opted to play at the University of Florida where he starred as a catcher and reliever and was a two-time third-team All-American, 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year and played on three College World Series teams.

He was then drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Red Sox. There he only played 13 games in 2017 but had a 0.52 earned run average.

In high school, Maddox batted over .500 his last three seasons with the Warriors, led them to two state championships and was named the Times-Union’s All-First Coast Baseball Player of the Year.

If you have information on missing children or teens, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. (1-800-THE LOST). To report child sexual exploitation, go to https://report.cybertip.org/.

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