Close-Up Shot of a Person with Handcuffs

Florida man accused of trying to meet up with a 12-year-old girl for sex

The Gist: A 29-year-old man named Brandon Keith Donato from Cocoa Beach is behind bars after police say he traveled to Deltona with the intent of engaging in sexual activities with a 12-year-old girl. Donato’s plan was intercepted on Saturday night by diligent deputies, detectives, and staff, who thwarted him after an undercover operation.

What Happened? Donato spent the previous weekend chatting to an undercover detective from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office, believing he was communicating with a 12-year-old girl.

The girl’s family discovered the Donato after they found the girl sharing explicit videos on her phone with an unknown man. Alarmed, they alerted authorities, leading them to initiate a swift investigation.

The girl named her predator as Brandon Smith, a supposed 17-year-old she met on Wink, an app directed towards teenagers, and also engaged with on Instagram.

Following investigations, analysts from the Volusia County Crime Center managed to identify the culprit as Donato, not Brandon Smith. Scrutiny of the minor’s phone revealed a disturbing series of explicit messages and descriptions from Donato, who was persistent in arranging another meeting.

Detectives posed as the victim, arranging a meetup with Donato in Deltona, where he was promptly arrested.

By The Numbers:

  • 2: Donato allegedly met the girl twice before being caught.
  • 6: A series of charges against Donato, including obscene material dissemination to a minor and unlawful use of a 2-way communication device to facilitate a felony.
  • $350,000: The bail amount set for Donato once in custody at the Volusia County Branch Jail.

What’s Next? The Sheriff encouraged greater vigilance among parents and guardians. “Today, thanks to the quick work of everyone involved in this case, there’s one less predator out there exploiting the same apps our kids use,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood remarked. “Unfortunately there are many more waiting for their own opportunity. Everyone should take the time and make the effort to protect our kids from predators who want to steal their childhood.”

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