By Kathryn Haake
One of seven suspects arrested in a child sex sting operation worked as the juvenile probation officer in Mineral County and as a sheriff’s deputy in California, the Missoula County Attorney’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
James Stewart Myers was taken into custody Dec. 18 after he allegedly gave $100 to an undercover detective as pre-payment for a sexual encounter with a 12-year-old girl, during a sex-sting operation led by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Glen Welch, who oversees both Missoula and Mineral counties’ juvenile probation officers, said Myers worked in the office for about seven years before retiring about six months ago. Now the office is “investigating to make sure there haven’t been prior problems with the kids up there,” Welch said.
He also said Myers was a good employee while he worked for the state, but refused to comment further about the ongoing investigation.
A representative from the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Myers worked there prior to his employment in Montana, but declined to comment further due to personnel privacy issues.
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks also declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
“To my knowledge, at this point there is nothing that would lead to additional charges,” Marks said.
During the sex sting, law enforcement officers posted advertisements on Backpage and Craigslist purporting to be a woman willing to make her 12-year-old relative available for sexual encounters.
Myers was one of seven people who allegedly made arrangements to have such an encounter with the child and traveled to the address used by undercover officers. According to the affidavit, Myers was given a choice of a 12-year-old girl or a 15-year-old girl, and chose the 12-year-old upon his arrival.
Myers appeared in Justice Court on Dec. 20 after he was released from the Missoula County jail on $50,000 bail. His arraignment on a felony child sex abuse charge is set for Jan. 21 at 9:45 a.m. before Missoula County District Judge Karen Townsend.
The sting was a joint operation between the Missoula Police Department, Missoula County Sheriff’s Department and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department.