Seventeen people, including at least two workers at Walt Disney World, have been charged in a Florida child-sex sting, officials said.
“You’ve got to know who your children are talking to, who they’re communicating with,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference detailing the operation, in which detectives posed as children on social media apps and dating sites.
Of the 17 people arrested, one said he was a lifeguard at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge and two others said they were custodians at Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios, the sheriff’s office said.
Walt Disney World said the custodians, Jonathan McGrew, 34, and Savannah Lawrence, 29, are on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the case.
The company said the person who said he was a lifeguard at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge does not work for Walt Disney World. It did not provide more details about whether he had ever done so.
McGrew was being held in lieu of bail Wednesday, according to jail records. Lawrence was released on bond.
A public defender listed as representing the pair did not immediately reply to a request for comment on their behalf Wednesday night.
The two have been dating. Lawrence told officials that McGrew was the initiator and that she only went along and was not told the age until they were in an Uber headed to the location, according to court documents. Texts show her registering shock at being told the purported girl’s age, the documents say.
Those arrested are 26 to 47 years old, and almost all went to locations for what they thought would be encounters with children, the sheriff’s office said.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.