Virginia Beach, Virginia: A two day operation announced by the Chesterfield County Police Department's Special Victims Unit disclosed seventeen arrests on Monday, November 1, 2021.
Detectives "intercepted suspects who believed they were solicitating sex from minors through online and social media platforms" according to a statement from police.
When the men showed up at a designated meeting spot to engage in sex acts with the children they were arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution. In total 32 charges were filed against the 17 individuals arrested.
One of the men arrested has been identified as 51-year-old John Blanchard, a senior pastor at Rock Church in Virginia Beach. He was charged with both solicitation of prostitution and use of a vehicle to promote prostitution or unlawful sex.
Blanchard was arrested on Friday, October 29 and was quickly released on bond.
Both Blanchard and his wife spoke during the Sunday service on October 31, but neither addressed the charges. Various media organizations have contacted the church seeking a statement and have been told, "At this time we do not have enough information to make a comment."