Lincolnton child predator investigation nets teachers, preachers

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — A child-predator investigation in Lincoln County has become so successful the investigation is expanding.

Teachers, preachers and other white-collar professionals have been accused of trying to solicit children for sex over the course of two years.

Detective Brent Heavner has led the investigation and has been working with the Lincolnton Police Department.

Exactly two years ago, Channel 9's Tina Terry reported on his first major sting, in which 17 men were arrested. Back then, Channel 9 reported that the suspects were accused of courting what they thought were children online, then going to meet them for sex.

[PAST COVERAGE: Officials: 17 arrested in multi-county sting to catch sexual predators]

"I thought this thing is done, we'll never get another one to come to Lincolnton. Hadn't slowed down any," Heavner said.

In fact, Heavner has started working full time to catch predators. He has arrested 34 other suspects since the first sting a couple of years ago.

"We've even arrested former police officers, firemen," he said. “We've arrested preachers, deacons."

He said parents should know predators are on social media applications such as Snapchat. He said they pose as children, gain trust and then ask children for nude photos. He said they even persuade children to meet.

"They show up to this park. It's a 50-year-old man, who knows what would happen," Heavner said.

He said parents should know who their kids are communicating with and even keep up with their passwords on their phones.

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