A Washington, D.C., man bragged about his plans to visit Orlando last week to have sex with a child, federal officials allege.
Now, Tanner Stickney, 29, is behind bars — and so is his ex-girlfriend, a Central Florida woman accused of playing a role in the supposed sexual rendezvous.
Stickney was arrested by FBI agents Friday after his flight landed at Orlando International Airport. He faces charges of possessing child pornography persuading a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
The woman, Rhonda J. Bays, 39, of Eustis was arrested Saturday and faces one count of conspiring with another for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct. She made her initial appearance in federal court Monday.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Stickney, federal agents searched his apartment and found several videos of boys engaged in sexual acts. They also found a video camera on a bedroom bookshelf and a four-minute video showing a child, about 8 to 10 years old, engaged in sexual acts with an adult male.
The adult in that video appears to be Stickney, the complaint says.
In an online chat last week, Stickney told an undercover detective he was coming to Orlando to have “sexual contact” with a child and that “he had previously had sexual contact with that child,” prosecutors allege. The child’s age and identity were not disclosed.
FBI agents watched Stickney as he boarded a flight Friday morning and changed planes in Charlotte, N.C. They arrested him when he arrived in Orlando and seized his cell phone, laptop computer and an external storage device. They found more than 100 movie files depicting children in sexual activities, the complaint alleges.
They also found “chats” with “Rhoni” on Stickney’s cell phone. Several text messages “Rhoni” sent Stickney were included in the criminal complaint filed against her.
Early Saturday, FBI agents met Bays at her home. According to the federal account, she told investigators she met Stickney through Facebook and that they were engaged in a sexual relationship but broke up in February.
Bays said that Stickney “fantasizes about engaging in sexual acts with ‘little boys,’ as well as ‘molestation,’” and “that she engages in these sexual molestation chats with Stickney as part of his fantasy.” her criminal complaint says.
A Department of Children and Families spokeswoman confirmed the agency launched a child-abuse investigation into Bays, who is a mother, on Saturday, and that the victim is not her own child.
Stickney and Bays are being held at the Seminole County Jail
Bays said little during Monday’s hearing. A man who said he is close to Bays but asked not to be identified, told the Orlando Sentinel that none of her friends and relatives believe the woman would do what investigators allege.
“I’m still in shock,” he said. “Because I know Rhonda and she’s not a child molester. Plain and simple.”