LAKELAND, Fla. — A City of Lakeland employee is facing charges for luring a 16-year-old girl to have sex with him, according to the Polk County Sheriff's office.
John Waldau, 36, is facing multiple felony charges after admitting to having sex with the teenager at least three times in 2018. Detectives arrested him after receiving multiple tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about explicit images being sent on Facebook messenger.
Detectives say Waldau received those images from the teenager after asking her to send them. He said he knew it was wrong but, "couldn't stop himself," according to the sheriff's office.
Waldau knew the victim through another relationship with an adult, the sheriff's office says. He started contacting her online and detectives say he, "cultivated and transitioned" the online relationship into a sexual one.
"Waldau is a classic sexual predator who cultivates a relationship with a child on line and then turns that relationship into a sexually explicit one," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "He knowingly and cunningly took advantage of this girl. We encourage parents to actively monitor their children's online activities so they can help protect their children from predators like Waldau."
Waldau has been employed with the City of Lakeland's Public Works Department for 18 years. He faces charges for sexual activity with a victim 16 or 17 years old, transmitting material harmful to a minor, unlawful use of a two-way communication device and traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a minor.
Waldau is being held in the Polk County Jail on a $40,000 bond.