Surgeon accused of sending explicit messages to undercover officer posing as a minor

Mark Anthony Winchell.
Mark Anthony Winchell.(Chatham County Jail)
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:24 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC/Gray News) – A surgeon is expected to face charges this week in connection to a sting operation that targeted adults accused of contacting children online for sexual activity.

WTOC reports Dr. Mark Winchell, an orthopedic surgeon in Savannah, Georgia, was wanted in a sting operation in which 17 other men were arrested, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.

Winchell is accused of exchanging explicit messages with law enforcement officers posing as minors on social media apps.

He was arrested last week and is being transferred to another county to face charges of criminal solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted dissemination of obscene material to a minor.

More than a dozen law enforcement agencies worked together on the month-long operation.

“Officers pretended to be underage teenagers as the suspects messaged them through apps. Some even had phone conversations with officers. After the suspect asked to meet with ‘the child,’ detectives were staged at a predetermined meeting spot to arrest them,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon explained.

Most of the messages featured sexually explicit language and images, according to Koon.

“The intent of these suspects during these communications is clear,” Koon said. “They were trying to persuade, entice or coerce someone they reasonably believed to be under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity.”

Koon said no children were ever used or placed in danger during the operation.

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