A high-ranking Pentagon official responsible for supervising federally operated schools in the Americas has been apprehended in a human-trafficking operation conducted in Georgia.
The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) announced last week that 26 individuals, including Stephen Hovanic, the former chief of staff for the Americas division of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), had been apprehended in connection with an alleged human-trafficking ring.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Hovanic has seemingly occupied the position since 2010.
Authorities filed charges against Hovanic, aged 64, for pandering, a misdemeanor in Georgia. This came after he purportedly sought sexual services in a motel room with an undercover agent.
“This kind of operation is really important to us, because, number one, sex buyers are a huge problem in the industry. Without sex buyers, there wouldn’t be a market for the females to continue to be victimized. Second, and probably most importantly for all of us, is the victimization of these females. There’s not a good scenario for them in this lifestyle, so the goal is to get them out of this lifestyle.”
The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office conducted a Human Trafficking Operation on November 15 and 16, 2023, and requested the HCSO Special Ops Div to assist. During the two days, six victims of Human Trafficking were rescued and moved to safety.— Haralson Co Sheriff GA (@HaralsonSheriff) November 20, 2023
Nevertheless, the federal school system indicated on its website that the position formerly held by Hovanic as chief of staff for the Americas is now listed as vacant.
The two-day operation took place from November 15 to 16, leading to the rescue of six victims of human trafficking. The Haralson County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) in Georgia, which supported the CCSO investigation, reported this in a post on X on Thursday. The rescued individuals have been relocated to a secure location.
In total, 26 individuals were apprehended, with 12 facing charges related to prostitution, 10 for pandering, and four for pimping. Presently, three of these individuals are subject to investigation for potential involvement in human trafficking and drug offenses.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) informed Channel 2 Action News through a statement that it is cognizant of a reported incident involving an employee in the Americas Region.
“As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time. Any questions regarding the incident should be directed to the local law enforcement agency involved.”
The DoDEA is recognized as one of merely two federally-operated school systems tasked with the planning, directing, coordination, and management of educational programs spanning prekindergarten through 12th grade on behalf of the Department of Defense.
The Department of Defense Education Activity oversees 160 schools located across 11 countries, seven states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico.
“DoDEA is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a world-class education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or career success and to be leading contributors in their communities as well as in our 21st century globalized society,” the website reads.