August 4, 2020
By: Staff Report
TAMPA, Fla. – Sergeant Stephen Utter, 37, of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested on Tuesday, August 4, for discussing sexual acts with who he thought was a minor, but was, in reality, a deputy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Update, Sergeant Utter was part of the Operation Small Talk announced by Sheriff Chronister.
Beginning on July 24, an HCSO detective was working in an undercover capacity on a social media app when Utter began a conversation with a “14-year-old female.” Utter was immediately made aware of the fictitious girl’s age. During the course of the conversations, both online and via text, Utter sent explicit messages detailing the sexual acts he wished to perform on the juvenile.
When deputies advised the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office of the investigation, MCSO worked in coordination with HCSO to arrest Utter. He was taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon at the Manatee County Fairgrounds during a work-related training exercise.
Utter, who has worked as a law enforcement officer in the Manatee County Jail since 2011, was booked into the Manatee County Jail on charges of Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device, Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor, and Use of Computer Devices to Solicit Certain Illegal Acts.
“This is a deeply disturbing incident, and we are thankful that the person on the other end of those chats and vulgar text messages was a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy, not a real child,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “The conduct of this sergeant is in no way a reflection of the thousands of deputies across Tampa Bay who are committed to serving their communities with integrity. We will not tolerate this predatory behavior from anyone, including a fellow law enforcement officer, as displayed by the quick actions both the Manatee and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Offices took to arrest this individual.”
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