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Press Release

Lake Wales Registered Sex Offender Convicted Of Enticement Of A Minor And Production Of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces today that a federal jury found Arnold Maurice Mathis (41, Lake Wales) guilty of one count of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity, one count of production and attempted production of child pornography, one count of attempted production of child pornography, and one count of commission of these offenses while required to register as a sex offender. Mathis faces a mandatory penalty of life plus ten years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 19, 2013.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, between November 2004 and January 2005, Mathis used a cell phone to entice a 14-year-old minor to engage in sexual activity. He initially met the minor at a high school basketball game in Auburndale. Mathis sexually assaulted that minor victim at least three times. Between May and November 2011, Mathis persuaded and attempted to persuade two 16-year-old minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of the activity. Mathis met one of the minors at Higher Praise Ministries Church in Lake Wales, where Mathis volunteered with the youth group. He met the other minor at a basketball game in Polk County. Mathis introduced himself to each of the three victims as a pastor, offered to be their godfather, and promised them food, money, and basketball shoes. Mathis was previously pastor of St. City Power & Praise Church in Winter Haven.

At the time of the offenses, Mathis was required by Florida law to register as a sex offender based on a 1994 conviction for lewd & lascivious assault on a child, in Leon County, Florida.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer L. Peresie and Stacie Harris.

It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated January 26, 2015