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Man Claims He Showed Up To Underage Sex Sting Because He Thought It 'Would Be Cool To See It In Action,' Cops Say

"It's like a moth to a flame," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said of the underage sting operation that nabbed Florida barber James Bowen.

By Jill Sederstrom

A Florida barber caught in an underage sex sting operation allegedly told sheriff's deputies he suspected it was a sting, but came anyway because he "thought it would be cool to see it in action," authorities said.

"His sexually charged chats and texts with an undercover detective he believed was a 14-year-old girl ensured that he got his wish," said a statement from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

When he arrived at the location, James Wayne Bowen, 34, was wearing a shirt that said "I would cuddle you so much harder," according to video footage posted by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office of the arrests made in the sting called Operation Unlawful Attraction.

When he arrived at a parking lot allegedly believing he'd be meeting an underage girl, he was placed in handcuffs and taken to jail instead. Bowen, who is the co-owner of Bob's Barber Shop, was charged with the use of a computer to seduce, solicit or lure a child, travel to seduce, solicit or lure a child, attempted lewd and lascivious battery and use of two-way communication device to commit a felony.

He was just one of seven men who now face charges stemming from the undercover operation that targeted internet predators.

"As many times as we do this, it's like a moth to a flame," Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said during a media conference, according to The Daytona Beach News Journal. "You've got these scumbags (who) think they are going to have sex with a 14- of 15-year-old."

The sheriff's office also arrested a former camp counselor who allegedly detailed a previous sexual encounter with a 16-year-old girl in internet chats with someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl, deputies said. Jonathan William Hayes, 22, who now works as a maintenance worker, though he was meeting a young girl, only to find a parking lot full of law enforcement officers. He faces the same charges as Bowen.

The video footage posted by the Volusia County Sheriff's Office shows the arrest of all seven men. In one takedown, a suspect can be heard asking what he did. A law enforcement officer responds, "I think you know, man," as the handcuffs are placed on the suspect.

In another arrest, the video shows a man standing with his hands behind his back in handcuffs.

"You picked the wrong county for this," a deputy can be heard telling him. The man responds by saying "I can explain myself" and "I made a mistake."

Chitwood said the arrests further confirm that the internet is a "dangerous place."

He said on previous stings, suspects have had duct tape and pills.

"We've had people show up with ski masks, condoms, Viagra, you name it," he said, according to the News-Journal. "This is what you deal with."

[Photo: Volusia County Corrections]

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