Senior DODEA administrator takes leave after arrest in human trafficking sting
Stars and Stripes November 24, 2023
The Department of Defense Education Activity administrator arrested recently for allegedly soliciting a prostitute during a human trafficking sting in Georgia has been freed on bond and is on leave from the agency.
Stephen Hovanic, 64, of Sharpsburg, Ga., was among 26 people arrested during a two-day operation by the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, according to a social media post Tuesday by neighboring Haralson County Sheriff’s Office, which provided support for the operation.
The chief of staff for Defense Department schools in the United States was released from custody Nov. 16 on a $2,675 bond, according to a release report provided by Coweta County.
Hovanic is on leave from the agency, DODEA spokesman Will Griffin wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday. He did not specify the type of leave or whether it is paid or unpaid.
“We are aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas Region,” Griffin wrote. “As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Griffin referred further questions to the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. A spokeswoman there referred questions to the department’s open records clerk, Missy Gravitt, who supplied the incident, booking and release reports but declined to provide more information.
The sting was initiated Nov. 15 by members of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, according to the post on X, formerly known as Twitter. Coweta is approximately 25 miles southwest of Atlanta.
Hovanic was arrested on a pandering charge at 4:29 p.m. on the sting’s first day, the incident report said. He was taken into custody at a SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Newman, which is approximately 12 miles west of the DODEA-Americas headquarters in Peachtree City.
Hovanic is accused of soliciting sex from an undercover officer in a hotel room where the sheriff’s office had set up the sting, Fox 5 Atlanta reported Wednesday. The report said he told officers he thought he was purchasing a massage, not sex.
Hovanic was booked the next day and released at 5:37 p.m.
Of the 26 arrests, 12 were for prostitution, 10 for pandering and four for pimping, the X post said. Six trafficked victims were rescued and three of the arrested individuals are under investigation for human trafficking and drug charges.
Pandering is the legal term for paying or attempting to pay for sex. It — along with pimping — is a misdemeanor under Georgia law.
Hovanic, an honorably discharged veteran who attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has worked for Department of Defense Education Activity for nearly three decades, the past 13 years as chief of staff for the Americas region, according to the activity’s website.
He joined DODEA in 1996 as an assistant principal at Quantico Middle-High School after working for 14 years in the Virginia public school system. He also served as principle of Dahlgren Unit School, according to his DODEA biography.
In 2008, Hovanic moved to Peachtree City as an instructional systems specialist and was named chief of staff two years later, the biography states.