An assistant Davidson College professor, living in Mooresville, is on leave after being charged with the attempted prostitution of a minor.
The York County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that 38-year-old Michael Thomas Bovino had been charged with attempted promoting prostitution of a minor. His bond amount was not immediately available.
Davidson College’s Director of Media Relations Jay Pfeifer released the following statement regarding Bovino’s employment:
“Davidson College is aware that an employee was arrested following an investigation by a South Carolina task force. The employee was placed on leave and barred from campus immediately following the arrest. The college cooperated promptly and completely with the investigation and cannot comment further regarding an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Pfeifer declined to say if Bovino is on paid or unpaid leave.
The sheriff's office identified Bovino’s occupation as a visiting assistant professor at Davidson College; he is no longer listed as a faculty member on the college’s website.
Bovino and nine others were arrested in the sheriff’s office called “Operation Vigilant Shepherd”, an online child exploitation investigation involving 13 state and federal law enforcement agencies across North and South Carolina, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service and Homeland Security Investigations. The sheriff's office also said it is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Authorities said 25 to 40 officers, analyst and additional staff conducted the operation as officers were online in several social media applications and were contacted by the suspects. Five of the 10 suspects arrested, called travelers by deputies, actually came, or attempted to visit, the residence of the operation. The sheriff’s office added in the release that suspects in this type of crime "more often than not, they have been a hands-on offender at some point with a victim who may or may not have ever come forward."
“If these suspects had not been identified and arrested talking to an officer, they would likely have been talking to a live child victim,” Sheriff Kevin Tolson stated in a news release.
He said the investigation is ongoing and additional suspects are being identified. Once positively identified, they will be arrested, the release stated.