Grapevine man arrested in South Dakota during child sex sting

Posted Thursday, Sep. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A former Grapevine air traffic controller was one of nine men arrested during a sex sting at a South Dakota motorcycle rally last month.

Timothy C. Gravens, 54, was indicted on a charge of commercial sex-trafficking after he attempted to have sex with a girl under 14. According to the indictment, Gravens was discovered with computer files containing child pornography during the arrest.

Gravens, who has since retired, was an air traffic controller working at the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center at the time of his arrest, a Federal Aviation Administration official said.

Gravens rolled into the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Aug. 5 on a 2012 black Harley Davidson motorcycle looking for a man who had agreed to provide him with a 12-year-old girl he could have sex with, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint filed in federal court.

The man, whom Gravens spoke to after reading an online advertisement on Craigslist.org, was actually an investigator with the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the affidavit said. Undercover officers created advertisements using age-regressed photographs of adult women to lure men to the sting operation.

According to the affidavit, Gravens asked whether the pimp had a 10-year-old girl and agreed to pay $300 for one hour with her as long as he could take pictures and did not have to wear a condom. Gravens said he would be a repeat customer if the pimp could find girls younger than 10. He had $300 and two cameras in his possession when he was arrested, the affidavit stated.

Federal officials seized Gravens’ motorcycle in a forfeiture allegation submitted to the court, the indictment states. If convicted on the commercial sex trafficking charge, Gravens could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Dakota said.

Sturgis, a town of about 6,500 in the Black Hills of South Dakota, welcomed more than 445,000 visitors to the rally in 2012, according to statistics on the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally web site. Law enforcement officials jailed 451 people and were called 907 times during the 10-day rally in 2012, rally statistics showed.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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