Lakeland youth leader accused of sexting teen, arrested as part of Polk sting

Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 03, 2017

A Lakeland youth director is accused of offering to send a teenager naked photos of himself.

RELATED: Polk County detectives arrest more than 12 in undercover child porn sting

29-year-old Charlie Cook Jr. is no longer working at Torah and the Market Place in Lakeland.

Cook Jr. was a youth leader and met his victim at the church according to investigators.

“That's just totally disgusting and they will meet their maker someday.” Carroll Rogers lives in Lakeland and says she hears too many reports of men and women being charged with sexually abusing children.

Investigators say Cook Jr. texted a 15-year-old girl, offering to send nude photos of himself to the youth members.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office also says there was a thread of sexual-in-nature content found on his phone and sent to the teen.

ABC Action News went to Cooks home, where he was standing outside in an orange shirt, but later when we pulled up to talk to him he went inside and would not answer the door.

Rogers says she’s not surprised that Cook Jr. lives in a nice neighborhood on Woodruff Way.

“You would not even think it. But these disgusting, nasty people, that's where they hide,” Rogers said.

Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, announced Cook Jr.’s arrest along with 12 other men who were arrested for child pornography; a sting investigators have been working hard on for years.

“He was employed as a youth leader for that Torah in the Marketplace Church,” Judd said during the press conference.

ABC Action News did knock on the synagogue’s door, but no-one was inside.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says it’s possible there are other victims.

“We think, we don't know, we have no evidence that he may have sent such communications to other kids in the synagogue,” Judd said.

Meanwhile, the community is happy to see more than a dozen men, not including Cook Jr. off the street.

“I cannot believe the number of people that are in these positions dealing with children,” Rogers said.

Cook was charged with two felonies, for sending harmful materials to a minor and using unlawful communication. 

Cook is out on bond.

“Children are our future and if you don't protect our children who will,” Rogers said.