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Authorities nab 29 men, two juveniles in child porn sweep

TAMPA — When investigators served a search warrant on Michael Edward Kelley, 58, they expected to find child pornography.

But when they arrived, they also found two girls — ages 7 and 10 — pictured in some of the pornography. They were the daughters of a woman Kelley molested as a girl in 1993, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.

The state Attorney General's Office announced on Wednesday the arrest of 29 men in a six-week long operation targeting people who may have child pornography on their computers.

Standing next to poster boards with mug shots of those arrested, Attorney General Bill McCollum called them sick people.

"These are very graphic images," he said. "And they're very hard to look at."

Kelley, charged with 60 counts of possession of obscene material and two counts of sexual battery, was held at the Orient Road Jail without bail. He spent a year in prison for the 1993 molestation case. He listed his occupation as a truck driver for Stepp's Towing in Tampa.

Among the arrested men were two employees of the Air Force and Coast Guard who had no prior Florida arrest record.

"They range the gamut, from A to Z," said Stephanie Bergen, section chief for the state's child predator cybercrime unit.

Senior Airman Scott Griffin, 23, who is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, and Jared Coombs, 30, an aviation maintenance technician with the Coast Guard in Pinellas, were each charged with 20 counts of possession of obscene material.

In addition to the 29 adults, the sting netted two juveniles, one from Pasco and one from Sarasota, Bergen said. They were not named.

The Attorney General's Office found the suspects by using specialized computer software. Bergen wouldn't elaborate on the software.

McCollum said he realizes that arresting these 29 adults does not stop the production and trading of child pornography, but he said he hopes to deter people and to remind parents to protect their children.

"We cannot arrest everybody, but we can have an impact in educating," he said.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Authorities nab 29 men, two juveniles in child porn sweep 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 11:46pm]

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