24 year old Steven Chapman sat slumped in a Clay County courtroom chair as he heard multiple friends and community members come forth on his behalf. "He's been a wonderful best friend to my son. He's been in and out of our home. He's just like part of the family," one said. Another said, "I can without reservation vow for Steven Chapmans character. His behavior, his commitment, his hopes."
But regardless of what those who know Chapman say, the Assistant State Attorney, James Colaw, believes he should pay for what he did. "If you're going to get on the Internet and you're going to come into our community with the full intention of sexually abusing or raping one of our children then if you get caught that punishment had better be severe," he says.
Chapman isn't the only one. During late March and early April, 19 other men were arrested in an undercover operation. It's called 'Don't Play in Clay'.. And was formed to catch adults using the internet to find minors. Authorities arrested each one for showing up at a local home, expecting to meet with a 13 or 14-year-old girl for a sexual liaison.
When the judge asked Chapman why he did it.. He said, "I don't know. I can't. I messed up." But did show remorse for his actions. "I messed up. I'm sorry. I know it was wrong. Legally and ethically. And it goes against the way I was raised," says Chapman.
Steven Chapman was sentenced today to five years in Florida state prison, and 10 years of sex offender probation.