|Died||October 5, 2007|
Federal Correctional Institution
John David "Roy" Atchison (1954-2007) was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida who was arrested on September 16, 2007 at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in an Internet sex sting organized by the Macomb County Sheriff's Office and the FBI. He had allegedly flown to Michigan with the intent of having sex with a 5-year-old girl. Atchison committed suicide while in detention on October 5, 2007.
Profiles created by Atchison on MySpace and Yahoo! Groups, using the nickname "fldaddy04" and describing himself as an "Experienced, understanding Daddy," drew the attention of the sting operation. He was contacted via instant message on August 29 by undercover officers posing as a mother willing to offer her 5-year-old daughter for sex. In daily conversations with the officers, Atchison described several graphic sexual acts he wished to perform with the fictitious girl. According to the affidavit, these included "oral and vaginal sex, as well as sodomy." He suggested the mother tell the girl that "you found her a sweet boyfriend who will bring her presents." When he was asked about possible physical injury to the young girl, Atchison allegedly responded, "I am always gentle and loving; not to worry, no damage ever, no rough stuff ever. I only like it soft and nice. … Just gotta go slow and very easy. I've done it plenty." At the time of his arrest at the Detroit airport, he had in his possession a Dora the Explorer doll, hoop earrings and petroleum jelly.
A not guilty plea was entered on Atchison's behalf to the following three charges:
- Attempted enticement of a minor using the Internet, which carries a potential 30-year sentence.
- Aggravated sexual abuse, another potential 30-year sentence.
- Traveling across state lines to have sex with someone under 12, a charge added on September 18 which carries a potential life sentence.
On September 20, Atchison attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet, but was stopped by guards at the Sanilac County Jail where he was being detained. Despite being transferred to a Milan federal detention facility under suicide watch, he was found unresponsive in his cell on the morning of October 5, apparently from hanging himself. He was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m.
Family & career
Prior to his arrest, Atchison lived in Gulf Breeze with his wife Barbara, a teacher at Gulf Breeze High School, and their three children. He attended the University of Florida and received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1986 and has worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pensacola since the late 1980s, handling mostly asset forfeitures.
He was also president of the Gulf Breeze Sports Association (GBSA), a youth sports organization. Vice president Mike Mabry told the Pensacola News Journal, "Honestly, we're trying to put this behind us. Our goal is to be here for the kids. This is the last thing the kids need. We will move forward." Responding to concerns stemming from the comment, "I've done it plenty," Gulf Breeze Police Chief Peter Paulding assured residents the department had received no local complaints against Atchison. However, the Detroit office of the FBI will investigate his involvement with the GBSA.
Atchison was a longtime friend of Gulf Breeze City Manager Edwin "Buz" Eddy, who said after the arrest that he hoped the charges were the result of a misunderstanding. "Before reading about this, I would have trusted him with my wife and kids."
After Atchison committed suicide, U.S. Attorney Greg Miller released a statement saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Roy’s family and friends. We hope that with the passage of time, they can find some measure of healing." Gulf Breeze Major Lane Gilchrist told reporters, "The only concern I have at this point is the family and that they be able to lead some kind of normal life. It still flabbergasts me that this whole thing happened. I really don’t know what to say about it.”
- Hearing for Gulf Breeze fed prosecutor facing child sex charge. Northwest Florida Daily News, September 17, 2007.
- Federal prosecutor arrest in child sex sting. Click On Detroit, September 17, 2007.
- "Prosecutor remains jailed." Pensacola News Journal, September 18, 2007.
- "Atchison attempts suicide." Associated Press, September 20, 2007.
- "Atchison hangs self in cell." Pensacola News Journal, October 6, 2007.
- "Gulf Breeze officials allay parents' fears." Pensacola News Journal, September 20, 2007.
- "Child sex sting nabs U.S. prosecutor." Detroit News, September 18, 2007.