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Athens officials ‘shocked’ by arrest of mayor for online solicitation of minor

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Published: Jun. 4, 2021 at 3:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas mayor has resigned his position after being one of four men arrested on charges of online solicitation of a minor.

James Monte Montgomery resigned from his position as mayor of Athens on Friday after the Thursday arrest.

The City of Athens released a statement about Montgomery’s arrest that reads:

‘We were shocked to learn yesterday of Mr. Montgomery’s arrest in Longview.

These are very serious allegations and the city of Athens does not take them lightly. We are committed to the protection and safety of our children.’

DPS officials say the arrests of four men was part of a multi-jurisdictional effort with other agencies, that had been working undercover for months to draw out individuals who were targeting children.

“Some of these conversations don’t take place over a week, some of them go on for months before the victim is lured into some sort of compromising position. These officers have stood in the gap for these kids, and it is a warning to parents and criminals alike, that we are there. There is a law enforcement presence online,” says DPS PIO Sgt. Jean Dark.

Jesse Mason of Hallsville, Jordan Rook of Longview, Michael Bylsma of White Oak, and James Montgomery, the Mayor of Athens, were all arrested and charged with second-degree felony online solicitation of a minor.

Undercover officers enticed the men to come to an undisclosed location in Gregg County where they were arrested.

Montgomery being among the arrests, according to investigators, is typical of these type of cases. It could be anyone. There is no particular profile on people who commit this kind of crime.

“The scary part is, you don’t know what this person looks like. There is no set profile for this person,” Dark says.

But Dark says that’s why these operations exist.

“We know those predators are out there, so law enforcement is going to continually do operations such as this in order to protect our kids,” she says.

In Texas, online solicitation of a minor is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

WebXTRA: Athens Mayor and others arrested for online solicitation

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