By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor
A 51-year-old custodian admitted he was working for Neely Traditional Academy in Gilbert when he stopped to buy condoms on his way to have sex with a 15-year-old girl — who turned out to be an undercover agent — officials say.
A state grand jury recently indicted Luke David Ottmann, 51, of Chandler, on two charges — luring a minor for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual conduct with a minor, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
Ottmann was on vacation June 24-28 when he was arrested and was fired the following Monday, July 1, according to Dawn Antestenis, spokeswoman for Gilbert Public Schools.
Ottmann started employment with the district in 1999 as a temporary custodian, moving up to groundkeeper in 2000 and night security in 2006. In 2014, he took a custodian position at Playa del Rey Elementary and in 2018 he moved to Neely Traditional Academy as a custodian, Antestenis said.
During his time with the district, there was only one incident recorded in his file — use of inappropriate language in December 2014.
“He was counseled on professionalism by the school administrator,” Antestenis said.
All district employees are fingerprinted and undergo background checks by the state Department of Public Safety upon hire, she added
Additionally, certified teachers have to undergo Identity Verified Prints clearance and receive a state-issued IVP card, according to Antestenis.
Ottmann, who was appointed a public defender, has an initial pretrial conference scheduled for Oct. 15. He made his $10,000 bail and left jail June 30, according to Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
As part of his release, he was outfitted with an electronic monitoring device and must adhere to supervised restrictions.
Ottmann was nabbed in a sting operation targeting child predators on various social media apps and websites.
He allegedly sent text messages June 27 from a social media profile to an undercover phone number, according to court records.
The agent informed Ottmann he was communicating with a 15-year-old girl and asked if he was OK with the age.
Ottmann, who revealed he was 50, said he had no problem with her age if she was OK with his, according to officials. Ottmann then asked what type of sex the girl liked to have and if they could perform oral sex on each other, court documents say.
The girl responded she didn’t want to get pregnant and Ottmann said he would bring condoms to the meet-up, according to the indictment.
Ottmann arrived to an undisclosed meeting place at Rural and Broadway roads and was met by an undercover officer who arrested him.
Ottmann allegedly admitted during the interrogation he went to the location to have sex with the 15-year-old girl and that on his way, he stopped to buy condoms, documents say.
The defendant allegedly used the app MocoSpace, according to Mia Garcia, spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
“There are tips for parents who can protect their kids from predators,” Garcia said. “They should always know which apps are downloaded on their kids’ phones and monitor their kids’ activity on apps regularly. Apps can expose kids to online predators and online bullying. There’re so many apps online that predators use to prey on kids.”
Operation Summer Shield was conducted over a week-long period in June by the AG, Tempe and Mesa police departments and Homeland Security Investigations.
A total of 25 men were arrested in the sting, accused of soliciting and/or brokering deals for various sex acts with children, according to Tempe Police.
Throughout the operational period, officers and undercover detectives placed ads on websites and apps, which are commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts with children, according to Tempe Police.
Each year, the agencies come together to conduct operations of this type. The suspects in the latest operation ranged in age from 19 to 63 years old.
Ottmann was one of four suspects so far formally charged. The other three included Ryan Kille, 32, Alex Waldron, 31, and Andrew Herrington.
Herrington, 63, was employed as a custodian at Sunshine Residential Homes, which is contracted with Department of Child Services to provide group homes for approximately 300 children in the West Valley.
Garcia said the investigation is currently ongoing. People who may have any additional information are asked to contact Tempe Sgt. Sean Still at 480-858-6492.