TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Guilty verdicts against one of the men charged in Operation Stolen Innocence were overturned by a Leon County circuit judge.
A man charged with felonies involving a young teenage girl at the center of a massive sex trafficking investigation, 33-year-old Daniel Mitchell, had his charges reduced after a two-day trial revealed the girl never told him her true age.
Mitchell was arrested last year on charges of lewd and lascivious battery on the girl and the use of a two-way communication device to carry out the crime.
The judge, Kevin Carroll wrote in his order that Mitchell went onto an "adults only" website where the then 13-year-old girl, was advertised as a 21-year-old. Mitchell offered $100 for sex and the girl agreed to a meeting, but her true age was not revealed.
The judge's order is available below.
Carroll ordered the guilty verdicts set aside and adjudicated Mitchell guilty of solicitation of prostitution, a second-degree misdemeanor.
"The evidence established that no sexual activity took place when she arrived at the defendant's house," Carroll wrote. "Indeed, no physical contact of any kind occurred. She was sent away."
Jurors convicted Mitchell on a lesser charge of attempted lewd and lascivious battery and use of the communication device.
Mitchell is the first person brought to trial in Operation Stolen Innocence.
The investigation began in November 2018. Since then, 106 people have been charged with felonies and 72 with misdemeanors.
Tallahassee Police said some of the most common ways to recognize a potential human trafficking victim are:
- The person appears malnourished.
- They show signs of physical injuries or abuse.
- They avoid eye contact, social interaction and law enforcement.
- They do not have official identification or personal possessions.
- They are never away from people.
If you see something, say something and call TPD at 850-891-4200. You can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-891-TIPS.