Kent State graduate student arrested in underage sex sting

Madison Baughman

Philip De Oliveira, a Kent State graduate student in the College of Communication and Information studying journalism, was charged with sex offenses following a four-day sting operation in Newburgh Heights.

A total of 22 suspects were indicted following Operation Memorial Dazed, which was conducted from May 29 to June 1 by the Newburgh Heights Police Department, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), Homeland Security and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

At a June 20 press conference, Ohio ICAC Task Force Commander Dave Frattare said the intent of the operation, which took eight to 10 months to plan, was to arrest individuals who believed they were going to have sex with minors between the ages of 12 and 15.

According to court documents on the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts website, De Oliveira, 26, was charged with attempted, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning and possessing criminal tools. He was arrested May 29 and posted a $2,500 bond on May 31. An arraignment is scheduled for July 3.

De Oliveira’s attorney did not return a call requesting comment.

De Oliveira was named the Walton D. Clarke Fellow at WKSU, Kent State University’s public radio station, between 2017-18 while working toward his graduate degree. His fellowship ended May 6, but he spent several weeks freelancing as a writer before his arrest.

De Oliveira’s reporting was heard on public radio stations statewide, and nationally on NPR. 

“He is no longer employed at WKSU or Kent State University,” said Eric Mansfield, Kent State University spokesman, in an email.

Frattare said the sting used undercover officers who posed as minors and focused its efforts on identifying and arresting as many offenders as it could during the Memorial Day week.

Frattare described importuning as when people engage in a sexually explicit conversation with someone they believe to be a minor. He also explained De Oliveira was charged with possessing criminal tools because he drove a vehicle to the house used in the sting and used a mobile device or computer to engage in what he described as criminal acts.

During the press conference, Frattare said Operation Memorial Dazed was the largest sex sting he was aware of in Ohio that targeted internet crimes against minors.

All those arrested were indicted June 19; the charges include attempted, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning and possessing criminal tools, attempted rape and corrupting an individual with drugs.

“I think the operation was a huge success,” Frattare said.

Madison Baughman is the diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].