Former University of Tenn. football player faces child sex charges in Pinellas County

MacKenzie James Crowder, Pinellas County Jail photo
MacKenzie James Crowder, Pinellas County Jail photo

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A former University of Tennessee football player has been arrested after deputies in Pinellas County say he sought out and engaged in an online sexual conversation with whom he thought was a 14-year-old female.

Deputies arrested Mackenzie “Mack” Crowder, 23, from Knoxville, Tenn., at an undisclosed location in Pinellas County Tuesday evening. He’s been charged with certain use of computer services prohibited and four counts of transmission of harmful material.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office insists Crowder admitted to communicating with a minor, soliciting sex several times, and sending four pictures of his private parts. The minor, however, was actually an undercover deputy.

Deputies say the conversations began January 21st, then on Tuesday made arrangements to meet the “minor” in Pinellas County, which is when deputies arrested him.

The suspect is listed as Mack Crowder, an offensive lineman, on the Tennessee website. He joined the Tennessee program in 2011 but redshirted.

This fall marked Crowder’s final season with the team. The university’s website says he played in 11 games, starting three.

Crowder’s arrest was made as part of the Sheriff’s Office “Operation Wayfarer” targeting men who are seeking out underage females on the internet for the purpose of engaging them in sex.

Crowder was released from jail on $50,000 bond Wednesday morning.

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