By The Associated Press
MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — Lauderdale County authorities said three men — including a teacher at an Alabama college — have been charged with attempting to lure minors for sex using social media.
Sheriff Billie Sollie said the three were arrested over the weekend in an operation by his deputies and Meridian Community College’s campus police.
Johnny Varnell Warren, 57, of Meridian, who worked at the MCC book store, was arrested Friday night after he showed up to meet what he thought was a teenager for a sexual encounter, Sollie said.
“We determined that Warren, and the two other suspects in this case, were using the medium to contact people under the age of 18 to set up sexual contact,” Sollie said. “Investigators arranged a meeting through the fictional person with Warren on Friday at which time Warren was taken into custody without further incident.”
Sollie said Kevin Donovan Winstead, 50, of Union, and Clifton Donavan Kelly, 33, of Highland Home, Ala., were arrested Sunday when they arrived in Meridian allegedly to meet with another minor.
Sollie said all three men were communicating with investigators from his office.
He said the three have been released on $10,000 bond each. No trial date has been set. The charge is a felony.
MCC officials said Warren was no longer employed at the school.
Sollie said Winstead was unemployed but that Kelly was a professor at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Ala. Richard Holland, president of UWA, said he had not been notified of Kelly’s arrest and he was looking into the case. Holland said Kelly is a lecturer with the Department of Languages and Literature.
“We are making inquiries of our own here to find out all we can,” Holland said.