JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The State Attorney’s office has completed its ten-month investigation into a local political power broker accused of ‘sextortion’ involving Taylor Swift tickets according to investigators.
In its report released Friday, investigators found Kent Stermon who was a friend of former Mayor Lenny Curry, a supporter of current Sheriff T.K. Waters, and aided the rise of Governor Ron DeSantis, used a “bizarre and fraudulent scheme” and “sextortion” where he asked for sexual favors from a woman in exchange for VIP access to a Taylor Swift concert.
Stermon shot and killed himself last December amid a JSO investigation into sexual misconduct.
“He was kind of flaunting that power in front of me like he knows powerful people,” the victim told JSO in recordings released by the State Attorney’s Office.
Action News Jax Ben Becker learned the victim was a family friend who was over 18 when the incident took place.
Stermon reached out to her through Facebook messenger last November and asked if he could help her get tickets to see Swift, according to the 13-page report.
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Investigators found they continued to communicate through phone calls and text messages before Stermon eventually provided the victim with two email accounts as part of the scheme. One was a fake Yahoo email account where Stermon pretended to be a so-called “gate keeper” who could provide the victim with backstage access to Swift.
Stermon used that fake Yahoo account to provide a survey asking if she was “comfortable turning it up a notch” by sending revealing pictures that showed her breasts, according to the report.
She said she provided some pictures, but they did not contain nudity.
“One is me topless holding my hands covering my nipples, that’s as far as it went,” she said.
Eventually, the victim purchased tickets for $1,400 after Stermon said he would reimburse her – all the while she still didn’t know that Stermon was the “gate keeper.”
The report goes on to say that Stermon asked her to come to his office for the money. That’s where the victim said they had a “weird and sexually explicit conversation.”
Stermon offered her $10,000 in exchange for a lap dance and then $5,000 in exchange for FaceTime sex said investigators.
She declined both times. She said then Stermon said, “You can’t leave here without giving me something,” and “It has to be more than 30 seconds.”
The report states she felt scared and frightened if she didn’t comply, so she exposed her breasts before leaving.
“Oh, and he even said to me too you have to do this my wife has cancer. I’m a horny old man,” said the victim. “Thank God, he didn’t touch me, but I knew it was going to be a he-said, she-said situation and he has all these people backing him.”
The investigator then asked, “He’s talking to you about the governor and he’s showing you a phone call coming in from the [former] mayor [Lenny Curry],” “Yeah,” said the victim.
A few days later she told her father who met Stermon at a Jacksonville Panera and confronted him over the incident. According to the father, he threw money at Stermon saying “I’ll bury you! I don’t want your money!”
In the report, investigators show Stermon’s internet searches on his work desktop made it clear that he believed he could be held criminally liable for his actions, although investigators were unable to get into Apple iPhone and Microsoft did not comply with a subpoena until the company received a search warrant.
The report concludes Stermon would have faced numerous felony charges including false imprisonment.
Action News Jax has also investigated Stermon’s relationship with JSO and former Sheriff, Mike Williams.
Stermon was the CEO of Total Military Management, but his company had no official business with the agency. However, he swiped his building access card 624 times since receiving it in January of 2017 at JSO headquarters, the K9 facility, and various substations across town.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson Statement:
“Sextortion and fraudulent schemes like this have become more prevalent as people exploit technology and use manipulation, fear, and power to coerce vulnerable individuals into terrible predicaments.
These crimes are often unreported because victims are afraid or embarrassed to come forward. The victim in this case told her story so no one else would potentially suffer in silence.
This investigation has resolved the many questions surrounding this incident. The diligence of it and the transparency of its findings should instill confidence in our local criminal justice system.”
Former Mayor Lenny Curry Statement:
“The investigation and report demonstrate that someone I thought I knew as a friend was instead a predator of an innocent victim. The report sickens me. I am enraged by his despicable behavior and sad for the young woman who was hurt by it. I will keep this young woman and her family in my thoughts, and I applaud the courage it took for them to report this terrible event. I am also thinking of Kent’s wife and daughter. The report of these events are one more terrible tragedy they must also face. I hope all who were hurt by this awful circumstance find peace and strength moving forward.”
“This has been a traumatic event, but I am grateful for the support of my family, friends, and those who have helped me over the past ten months.
I am thankful the investigation confirmed my experience, and I am relieved no one else has or will have to go through what I did. My hope is that my experience provides reassurance to victims in other similar crimes that they will be heard and seen.
Despite this ordeal, my and my family’s heart breaks for the Stermon family. Psalms 31.”