COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19)- A former youth tennis coach who prosecutors say dubbed himself “Daddy Lover” was convicted of a sex crime involving a child and now will be required to register as a sex offender.
In Kentucky’s first jury trial since the coronavirus pandemic shut down courts earlier this year, Kenton County jurors deliberated only 20 minutes finding Timothy Mitchell of Mt. Airy guilty of a felony charge of unlawful use of an electronic device to procure a minor for sex.
“These cases are a priority in Kenton County and it’s a good reminder that protecting our children is job #1!” said Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders.
The jury recommended Mitchell serve 2.5 years in prison.
Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe is expected to formally sentence him next month.
The trial began on Mitchell’s 62nd birthday Tuesday. The courtroom was filled with plexiglass dividers and masked jurors scattered about for social distancing requirements to try to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Everyone but the jurors was cleared from the courtroom so the jury could deliberate while still remaining at least six feet apart.
The investigation leading to Mitchell’s arrest began as a police training scenario, prosecutors say.
Kenton County Police Detective Brian Jones was in a class learning how police spot online child predators.
He followed the classroom instructions and created an online persona, pretending to be a 14-year-old female.
Mitchell responded to the “child” with an array of sexual comments, questions, and even emailed a photo of his genitals on the very first day of online contact, prosecutors say.
Mitchell sent numerous emails requesting to meet the child for sex despite being repeatedly reminded of the girl’s young age.
He also suggested the “girl” tell her guardian she was taking tennis lessons from him so the two could spend time alone together, according to prosecutors.
Mitchell’s emails described various sex acts he desired to engage in with the “child” and told her he wanted to be her “Daddy Lover.”
On March 12, 2019, after communicating with what he thought was a child for only a week, Mitchell traveled from his home in Mt. Airy on Cincinnati’s west side across the Ohio River and into Kenton County.
Authorities say he planned to have sex with the child but was instead met by Kenton County Police Officer Adam Watson and Captain Gary Helton, who arrested him.
Officers said they discovered Mitchell was dressed as he had described for the child, with no undergarments beneath his tracksuit.
He also had a new cellular phone he planned to give to the child so her guardian could not track her calls.
Detective Jones brought Mitchell in for questioning but did not disclose he was really the "child" communicating with Mitchell.
After Jones described how angry the child’s guardian was upon learning of grown man soliciting the child for sex, Mitchell proceeded to write her an apology letter, reassuring her he had no intention of kidnapping the girl.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys Emily Arnzen and Corey Plybon declined to make any plea offers to the defendant.
“In the criminal justice system, sexual crimes are considered especially heinous, but sexual crimes against children are the worst of the worst!” Arnzen said.
“If it wasn’t Detective Jones, it would have be a real child and she would receive a life sentence suffering from the trauma of being raped by this man. Thank God for great cops like Detective Jones, and thank God our Kenton County Police fund a position dedicated to hunting online predators.”