Marietta man held in Fla. child sex sting

A Marietta man who sheriff's deputies say arranged for a sexual encounter with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl remained in a Florida jail Tuesday, authorities said.

The St. Johns Sheriff's Office said Travis Banovatz, 29, never traveled to Florida but planned to do so and continued to have sexually oriented conversations with the undercover agent posing as a child, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Corporal Catherine Payne. He was arrested Saturday on an outstanding warrant and taken to Florida.

Payne said Banovatz was the 18th person charged with obscene communication with a minor stemming from "Operation Sheepdog," during which sheriff's agents posed as children or parents on sites such as Craigslist. The suspects were invited to meet with a child at a house in St. Johns County, the spokeswoman said.

The Marietta man allegedly initially made contact using Craigslist in early April 2011 and followed up conversations using Yahoo Instant Messenger, during which authorities say he arranged an April 27 meeting for sex in Florida.

Banovatz's arrest came more than a year after 17 other men were arrested in the same sting, Payne said. He was being held in lieu of $150,000 bond.