UPDATE: Scott Royal has been released on a $5,000 bond.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A local firefighter is in custody after trying to meet an underage girl for sex online, according to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Scott Royal, 37, of Springdale, was arrested by HSI agents on Monday, September 23 and booked into the Washington County Detention Center on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Arkansas State Police, local law enforcement, and HSI were working on a joint operation to target online sexual predators during the Bikes, Blues & BBQ — an event that’s taking place in northwest Arkansas the last week of September.
The probable cause report states Royal responded to a Craigslist ad and began chatting with an agent posing as a 14-year-old girl.
Between Sept. 18 through the 23, Royal, who used the fictitious name of “Jim Bass,” exchanged more than 100 emails that outlined details to perform sexual activities and arranged to meet the teen for sex, according to the affidavit.
On Sept. 23, around 8:30 p.m., Royal went to a pre-arranged location to meet the teen, but instead was greeted by federal agents.
During the interview with agents, he held a position of public trust as a Fayetteville firefighter, according to the affidavit.
Royal is being held without bond on a Federal hold in Washington County.
As for Royal’s job, Fayetteville Fire Chief Brad Hardin said: “This is a personnel matter. There is an internal investigation that should wrap up next week. At this time, this is all I am able to release.”
The HSI special agent is assigned to the Fayetteville office. This person has been with the agency since 2009. Investigations are related to child exploitation and pornography and include illegal production, distribution, online enticement, transportation, and receipt and possession of child pornography.