COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Northland High School teacher has been arrested and charged with one count of compelling prostitution.
According to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, 60-year old Robert Pea of Columbus was arrested Wednesday morning by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
Officials say Pea contacted a minor through an online ad and “engaged in sexual activity for hire.”
According to the complaint, police say they received tips about a girl who was a possible sex trafficking victim. Through interviews, subpoenas, and cellphone records, police say Pea became a person of interest and was arrested after they interviewed him.
Sgt. Dana Hess, director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, said Pea was arrested at the school Wednesday during a teacher workday, meaning students were in the building at the time.
The charge is a felony of the third degree and is part of an ongoing human trafficking investigation, according to police.
A Columbus City Schools spokesperson said Pea has been employed with the district since August 1998, most recently as a social studies teacher, and boys bowling and golf coach. She said he will remain out of the classroom and will receive no pay until the criminal charges are resolved.
“A sex buyer can come from any profession and clearly through Operation Ohio Knows, we identified all over the state that there were various professions where people were purchasing sex from other human beings just like this teacher did,” said Sgt. Dana Hess, director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
Hess added that given the nature of the accusations, the task force wanted to move quickly so Pea would not be around children.
Pea is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.