A junior Navy officer was arrested last month after trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old deaf girl, authorities say.
Lt. j.g. Michael D. McNeil had online conversations from Aug. 27 to Aug. 30 with someone he believed to be the girl, according to Clay County, Florida, sheriff’s office records.
“He entered a chat room from my understanding and initiated the conversation,” sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Keith Smith said in an email to Navy Times. “He believed he was conversing with a child the whole time.”
But McNeil was actually communicating with an undercover officer and was arrested when he went to meet on Aug. 30 at an Orange Park Starbucks, according to the arrest report.
McNeil, a surface warfare officer stationed with the destroyer Lassen at nearby Naval Station Mayport, is charged with felony violations of Florida’s Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, as well as using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony, Navy and police records indicate.
Stephan J. Raniszewski was fired as the senior enlisted leader of the future warship Thomas Hudner this spring.
No trial date has been set, said Keith, who did not respond to questions regarding when McNeil was released.
He has been temporarily reassigned to Naval Surface Squadron 14 in Mayport, according to Naval Surface Force Atlantic spokesman James DeAngio.
McNeil could not be reached for comment, DeAngio said.
McNeil enlisted in 2006 and attended officer candidate school in 2016, according to Navy records.
The Arkansas native reported to the Lassen after receiving his commission.