An Army military policeman was charged with promoting prostitution and enticing a child under the age of 15 after he was arrested by the South-Central Missouri Computer Crimes Task Force outside Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, last week.
Austin Michael Peyton, 28, was suspended from drill sergeant duties following his arrest, said Fort Leonard Wood spokeswoman Tiffany Wood.
Peyton is assigned to the 14th Military Police Brigade, an initial entry training unit for military police recruits after they graduate basic combat training.
Law enforcement arrested the soldier after he contacted the internet profile of an undercover officer posing as a child under the age of 15 on Jan. 23, according to a probable cause document.
Peyton was explicitly informed of the child’s age in the seventh message of their conversation, but he chose to continue messaging them and ultimately solicited the child for sexual services, according to the document.
Peyton set the “tone and pace” of the messages, the records stated. He asked the undercover officer if they “wanna make some money?”
“After being informed of the identity of a minor, he continued his proposition and stated, ‘Well damn. Well if you change your mind,'” the probable cause document reads.
Peyton later asked the undercover officer if they were a virgin before asking for oral sex and describing the sexual act in detail. He then offered $200 in exchange for the acts.
Peyton was arrested at 5:30 p.m. that same day while sitting in his personal vehicle outside a local health and fitness business known as “The Centre” in Rolla, Missouri.
He was interviewed by Phelps County sheriff’s deputies at the scene of his arrest and admitted that he was there to meet a person. He had the $200 in cash with him and the messages with the undercover officer on his phone.
Peyton was denied bail by the court, which found the soldier to be a risk to the community if released. Fort Leonard Wood officials declined to provide further details of Peyton’s service record.
An attorney for Peyton was not listed in his court records and the soldier could not be reached for comment.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.