Former MLB Pitcher Arrested in Florida Child Predator Sting Operation

Andrii__Ivaniuk /
Andrii__Ivaniuk /

A law enforcement task force in Jacksonville, Florida, has arrested dozens of men in a child trafficking sting operation. Among the men arrested were a hospital nurse, a school maintenance worker, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Austin Maddox. The men are all accused of soliciting children on the internet for sex. The arrests all took place in April, but the task force released video of the operation just this week.

The sting operation was dubbed Valiant Knights. In total, 27 men were taken into custody after police said they knowingly solicited undercover officers for sex on the internet. The men all believed that they were chatting with young teenagers, and in many cases, they were arrested after traveling to meet their intended victims. The operation was led by Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters.

Maddox’s defense attorney says his client is innocent and plans to vigorously contest formal charges if they are filed. The arrest report says that Maddox initiated contact with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl. Even though the “girl” told him her age, Maddox continued to insist that they get together for sex. He made arrangements to meet the girl but was greeted by a group of burly cops who tackled him when he arrived.

Police say Maddox tried to run, and he resisted arrest until a K-9 unit calmed him down. He faces multiple felony charges, including traveling to meet a minor and using a computer to solicit a child. His bail has been set at $300,000.

As a baseball player, Maddox graduated from high school in 2009 as the top catcher in the state of Florida. He played college ball at the University of Florida and was drafted into the MLB in 2012. After several years of Triple-A ball, he was called up to pitch for the Boston Red Sox in 2017. He threw 14 strikeouts and had an ERA of 0.52 during his one short season as a relief pitcher.

One of the suspects who was arrested in the sting was Robert Lee Suiter. He was carrying a handgun and an illegal drug, MDMA (Ecstasy), when he thought he was about to meet an underage girl.

Maintenance employee Kevin Bryan Pearce works for the Duval County School District in Jacksonville. He’s charged with soliciting a child with a computer and traveling to meet them and with coercing commercial sexual activity with a trafficked adult. Officers say Pearce sent a nude photo of himself to what he thought was a 13-year-old. He’s still in jail, with bail set at $400,000.

Chad Michael Sadlowski was still in his hospital scrubs after work when police pulled him over on the freeway. Investigators say Sadlowski believed he was on his way to meet an 8-year-old child.

It’s a good reminder to parents that there are a ton of creeps out there that are constantly trying to entice and coerce kids on the internet. The entire Valiant Knights operation took place over four days, from initial police contact with the suspects until they arrested them while traveling to meet what they thought were vulnerable or even trafficked children.

Here’s the video of the arrests that the Jacksonville task force released this week: