John David R. Atchison, a federal prosecutor from Florida, was held in custody Monday after he appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit on a charge that he flew to Detroit intending to have sex with a 5-year-old girl.
Atchison, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Florida's northern district, is expected to appear again in court for a detention hearing on Tuesday.
He was caught in an Internet child sex sting run by the Macomb County Sheriff's Department and the FBI and arrested Sunday when he flew into Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Pensacola, Fla.
Atchison is charged with using interstate communication to entice a minor to have sexual contact, a federal charge that carries a 10-year minimum prison sentence upon conviction. He is also charged with traveling across state lines with the intent of engaging in illicit sexual contact, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.
A sheriff's deputy posed as a mother who was interested in finding someone to have sex with her children, in a sting that has already netted a California paramedic and numerous other alleged pedophiles from around the country.
According to the complaint, Atchison reassured the sheriff's deputy who was posing as the child's mother that he would not hurt the 5-year-old because he goes "slow and easy," and "I've done it plenty."
News of Atchison's arrest is "a shellshock" in Gulf Breeze, where Atchison was the president of a local youth recreation board and had been involved in coaching soccer, baseball and other sports.
Atchison is married with children and has lived in the community about 20 years.
Officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tallahassee, where the northern district of Florida is headquartered, and in Pensacola, where Atchison works, could not immediately be reached for comment.
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