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Pentagon official overseeing federal schools arrested in Georgia human-trafficking sting

A senior Pentagon official who oversaw federally operated school systems in the Americas has been arrested in a Georgia human-trafficking sting.

The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) last week announced the arrests of 26 people, including Stephen Hovanic, former chief of staff for the Americas division of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), in connection with an alleged human-trafficking ring.

Hovanic has apparently held the position since 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Authorities charged Hovanic, 64, with pandering – a misdemeanor in Georgia – after he allegedly solicited sex in a motel room with an undercover agent, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.

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“This kind of operation is really important to us, because, number one, sex buyers are a huge problem in the industry. Without sex buyers, there wouldn’t be a market for the females to continue to be victimized,” an agent told FOX 5 on the condition of anonymity. “Second, and probably most importantly for all of us, is the victimization of these females. There’s not a good scenario for them in this lifestyle, so the goal is to get them out of this lifestyle.”

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A screenshot of Stephen Havonic's LinkedIn profile

Fox News Digital reached out to DoDEA on Friday but did not immediately receive a response. The federal school system did, however, list Hovanic’s former position as chief of staff for the Americas as “vacant” on its website.  

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The two-day operation occurred between Nov. 15 and 16, resulting in the rescue of six human trafficking victims, who have since been “moved to safety,” the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, which assisted with the CCSO investigation, said in a Thursday post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

mugshots of a dozen suspects arrested in a Georgia human trafficking's ring

“A total of 26 arrests were made, 12 for prostitution, 10 for pandering, and four for pimping. Three of the individuals are currently under investigation for human trafficking and drug charges,” HCSO said.

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The DoDEA told Channel 2 Action News in a statement that it is “aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas Region.”

“As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time. Any questions regarding the incident should be directed to the local law enforcement agency involved,” the entity said.

The DoDEA is described as “one of only two Federally-operated school systems” that is “responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD),” according to its website. 

The DoDEA operates 160 schools located across 11 countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The school system employs about 15,000 people and serves nearly 70,000 children of military and DoD families. 

“DoDEA is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a world-class education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or career success and to be leading contributors in their communities as well as in our 21st century globalized society,” the website states.

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