19 arrested in Internet sex sting

Brown Co. sheriff's officials release detailed information on the results of  an Internet sex sting, March 31, 2014. (WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)
Brown Co. sheriff's officials release detailed information on the results of an Internet sex sting, March 31, 2014. (WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)

BELLEVUE - It was a larger bust than investigators thought.

Nineteen men were arrested in a handful of area counties in a sex sting.

The sting, led by Brown County's Sheriff's Office, targeted online child predators.

One of the men arrested, who was in court today, is 40-year-old Shawano man training to be a school bus driver.

"That was a quick one. He contacted us in the evening, on Friday evening, and said I can be in Brown County in 10 minutes," said Captain Jeff Sanborn, Brown Count Sheriff's Office.

Authorities say Shawn Raasch thought he was talking to a 15-year-old girl, but instead, it was an undercover officer.

"At that point we grabbed the cell phone immediately to make sure this is undoubtedly the person that we've been communicating with on the phone," Sanborn said.

Raasch has been charged with child enticement and use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

Johnson Bus Service has a contract with the Shawano School District.

The organization's vice president, Judy Holzmann, says Raasch went on about 13 school bus ride-alongs with another driver.

He's no longer with the company.

In a statement from the Shawano School District, the superintendent Gary Cumberland said,

"In working with Johnson Bus Company, the District is certain they will do what is appropriate in this matter to keep all our students safe."

Raasch is one of six arrested in Brown County.

It's part of what Investigators are calling Operation Vanguard which took place last Thursday through Saturday.

"During that operation we talked with and chatted with well over 1,000 people," said Lieutenant Jim Valley, Brown County Sheriff's Office.

Overall around 75 officers from 10 agencies made arrests in five counties.

The arrests made in those counties are as follows:

Brown (6)

Marathon (5)

Winnebago (4)

Shawano (3)

Outagamie (1)

"I think my impression is that I was very surprised that we got the numbers we did," said Valley.

Those meetings are similar to an operation FOX 11 went on last year.

Officials say this type of online activity is a growing problem in the area.

"The numbers are up, which is, this is the most we've had so far," said Valley.

The Brown County Sheriff's Office says this is the fourth sex sting operation since 2012.

The judge set a $15,000 cash bond for Shawn Raasch. He will be back in court on April 9.

{ }