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Deputy in Tampa accused of sex crime

The Hillsborough County officer began a relationship with the teen several months ago.

By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002

TAMPA -- A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy was arrested at his home Friday night after a weeklong investigation revealed a sexual relationship between the deputy and a teenage boy he had met in an online chat room, Tampa police said. Charles David Odell, a nine-year veteran of the force, became the focus of the investigation after the boy's parents called authorities about their son's online habits, said Tampa police Detective Julie Dickie.

The parents contacted the Police Department because "they felt their son was involved in inappropriate activity," Dickie said. "They had no idea with whom."

Odell, 41, apparently met the boy online and, over the course of a year, had personal contact with him on at least four occasions, Dickie said. She would not say where their meetings took place.

Authorities confiscated two computers at Odell's home and are looking to see whether there are other victims, Dickie said.

Odell was arrested at his home on Edna Court about 11 p.m. on charges of lewd and lascivious acts on a 15-year-old child and possession of marijuana.

In addition to the criminal probe, the Sheriff's Office has launched an Internal Affairs investigation, said sheriff's Sgt. Alan Hill.

Odell has been placed on administrative leave without pay, Hill said.

Odell was a patrol deputy assigned to District 3, which encompasses the northwest part of the county, including the Carrollwood, Westchase and Citrus Park neighborhoods.

Dickie urged parents to keep a close eye on their children because of the dangers lurking in cyberspace.

"Watch your kids on the Internet," Dickie said. "I wish parents would just watch their kids."

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