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Pentagon school official arrested in human-trafficking sting

The chief of staff for the agency overseeing schools on US military bases has been charged with solicitation of prostitution

A Pentagon education official has been snared in a human-trafficking crackdown in suburban Atlanta, leading to his arrest on allegations that he solicited an act of prostitution.

Stephen Hovanic, 64, was among 26 people busted last week in a human-trafficking sting conducted by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office in Newnan, Georgia, southwest of Atlanta. The sheriff’s department in neighboring Haralson County, which assisted in the two-day operation, said the initiative resulted in six victims of human trafficking being “rescued and moved to safety.”

Hovanic, who is chief of staff for the Department of Defense Education Activity Schools (DoDEA) in the US, faces a misdemeanor charge of pandering, meaning he allegedly induced a person to take part in prostitution. The sting netted ten arrests for pandering, four for pimping and 12 for prostitution.

“Pandering is not a victimless crime, as the demand for prostitution drives the sex-trafficking market,” Coweta County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Toby Nix told the local newspaper in Newnan.

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DoDEA schools are attended by the children of soldiers and civilian employees on American military bases. The agency has 50 schools and more than 20,000 students in the Americas, the region for which Hovanic has served as the DoDEA’s chief of staff since October 2010. The DoDEA oversees 160 schools attended by over 66,000 students worldwide.

Military.com said Hovanic’s biography had been removed from the DoDEA’s website as of Wednesday. He has worked in education for more than 40 years, including stints as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Virginia public school system. He joined the Pentagon agency as an assistant principal in 1996 and was promoted to principal at a DoDEA school in Virginia five years later. He was transferred to a position in the agency’s US headquarters in Peachtree City, Georgia, in 2008.

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Hovanic is currently on leave from his job at DoDEA, agency spokesman William Griffin told Military.com. “We are aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas region,” Griffin said. “As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Under Georgia state law, misdemeanor pandering is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Pandering is classified as a felony when a minor is involved or when the perpetrator compels someone to commit an act of prostitution under duress or coercion.

November 24, 2023 at 05:49AM

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