HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — The Itasca ISD superintendent was among seven people arrested in a six-month-long sex sting, according to Constable Alan Rosen.
Investigators posted as teens to lure the predators into their trap.
"These predators were online surfing and looking for children," Rosen said.
According to Rosen, Michael Stevens, 47, was planning to come to Houston and engage in sex acts with a teenage girl. Rosen said Stevens sent naked photos of himself to who he thought was a 15-year-old girl but was really an undercover investigator. He also requested that the teen send him naked photos and videos, Rosen said. Stevens is a former coach, principal and assistant principal in various districts located in North Texas, northwest Texas and the Gulf Coast.
"You must make it a priority to know what your children are doing online," Rosen said. "As you can see by this sting operation, there are dangerous predators out there grooming our children and can cause great harm."
Stevens used a social media app to communicate with the officer, who he believed to be a teenage girl in Houston. Rosen said some of the photos Stevens sent appeared to have been taken in his office at work.
"He was actually videotaping himself at his job, at his place of work. He apparently got very comfortable with what he was doing," Rosen said.
Stevens had been communicating with the undercover officer posing as the teen for months, Rosen said.
He was arrested at work on Wednesday.
"I think he was in shock," Rosen said.
According to Rosen, Stevens is married with no children. He was booked into the Harris County Jail on Thursday night. He's being charged with online solicitation of a minor. His bond is set at $100,000.
"He doesn’t have any children, but he’s been around children his whole career," Rosen said.
Itasca ISD statement:
"On June 1, 2023, the District was contacted by a detective with the Harris County Sherriff’s Department. According to the detective, Superintendent Michael Stevens was taken into custody. Until more facts are confirmed, no further information can be shared. The Board of Trustees will be convening a meeting to review this matter and take appropriate action."
Itasca ISD school board members set a special meeting for June 5 at 7 a.m.
A FedEx worker was also arrested in the sting. Rosen said the man was chatting with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl and showed up at an undercover location with a pack of condoms.
A 23-year-old man was also arrested in the sting. He showed up to meet a 14-year-old girl and tried to flee when officers showed up to arrest him.
Another man believed he was meeting up with a 16-year-old to have sex. He showed up at an undisclosed location with condoms and was arrested. He worked as a dishwasher and a cook at a coffee shop.
A 26-year-old unemployed man was arrested after showing up at a place where he thought he was going to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Another man showed up at the undercover location expecting to engage in sex acts with a 14-year-old girl. He was arrested with condoms in his pocket.
A 41-year-old man was arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor after he drove from Waco to Harris County. Officers said they found more than 40 pairs of women's underwear in his possession. Investigators are working to find out if there are any more victims.
All of the suspects were booked into the Harris County Jail. Several of them posted bond and were released.
"This is exactly why we are doing that -- is to see if there are any other victims or people that would like to come forward that may involve any of the suspects that we have arrested," Rosen said.
Anyone with information about anything related to this sting is asked to call Rosen's office at 713-755-7571. Rosen said they want to find out if any other children were targeted.
The sting was part of an Internet Crimes Against Children initiative. Several law enforcement agencies assisted in the operation:
- Humble Police Department
- Humble ISD
- Houston Police Department
- Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office
- Harris County Sheriff's Office
- Harris County District Attorney's Office
- Texas City Police Department
- Spring ISD Police Department/Emergency Management and School Safety
- Montgomery County Precinct 2 Constable
- Missouri City Police Department
- FBI - Houston
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Roman Forest Police Department
- Conroe Police Department
- Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office
- Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office