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Top Defense Department school official arrested in human trafficking sting
Coweta County Sheriff's Office

Top Defense Department school official arrested in human trafficking sting

A top official with the Department of Defense Education Activity was arrested earlier this month in an undercover human trafficking sting.

Last week, Georgia law enforcement announced that 26 people had been arrested as part of a two-day undercover human trafficking sting conducted by the Coweta County Sheriff's Office.

Among those arrested was 64-year-old Stephen Hovanic, chief of staff for Defense Department schools in the Americas. The agency is the federal school system for the Defense Department, operating schools for military families and Pentagon families.

Hovanic is charged with pandering, a misdemeanor in Georgia. Law enforcement alleges that Hovanic tried to solicit sex from an undercover officer in a hotel room on Nov. 15, WAGA-TV reported. He allegedly told law enforcement that he believed he was paying for a massage — not sex.

"Pandering is not a victimless crime, as the demand for prostitution drives the sex trafficking market," said Sgt. Toby Nix of the Coweta County Sheriff's Office.

Hovanic was released from police custody on Nov. 16 after posting bond. DODEA spokesman Will Griffin confirmed that Hovanic is now on a leave of absence from the agency.

"We are aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas Region," Griffin told Stars and Stripes. "As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Through the operation, officers rescued six human trafficking victims.

An undercover female officer who participated in the sting explained why the operation was "really important."

"This kind of operation is really important to us because, number one, sex buyers are a huge problem in the industry. Without sex buyers, there wouldn't be a market for the females to continue to be victimized," she told WAGA. "Second, and probably most importantly for all of us, is the victimization of these females. There's not a good scenario for them in this lifestyle, so the goal is to get them out of this lifestyle."

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Chris Enloe

Chris Enloe

Staff Writer

Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News
@chrisenloe →