VALDOSTA -- A dean at Valdosta State University was among 14 people arrested and charged with sex crimes against children during a four-day sting operation in Georgia, according to the GBI.

Keith Walters, 44, is charged with sexual exploitation of children after local and state agencies said he tried to meet someone he believed was a minor for sex. Walters is the dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, as well as a chemistry professor at VSU, according to the university’s website.

The university placed Walters “on immediate administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and law enforcement investigations into these very disturbing allegations,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “VSU remains committed to assisting law enforcement’s investigation in any way.”

The charges against Walters stem from an operation dubbed “Operation Broken Arrow,” according to GBI spokeswoman Lindsay Marchant. The investigation, which was based in Valdosta but involved nearly 20 agencies, took “several months of planning,” she said.

Those arrested range in age from 24 to 57. The accused men visited online chat rooms and internet websites, Marchant said. Online, they found people who they believed to be children and began having conversations with them. The conversations eventually turned sexual, according to investigators.

“In some of these cases, the subject introduced obscene or lewd content, often exposing the minor to pornography or requesting the child to take nude or pornographic images for them,” Marchant said. Investigators said those arrested traveled from all around south Georgia with the intention of meeting a child for sex.

“Every individual arrested during the operation believed they were going to a location to meet with a child and engage in prearranged sex acts,” Marchant said.

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