On May 1, detectives with the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children task force were assigned a case involving a 14-year-old girl. After downloading the contents of the girl's iPhone 8, the investigators say they found what they were looking for: a series of explicit text messages sent to her by Kevin Kerlin, a 45-year-old Miami-Dade firefighter.
"When the time is right we will know," he wrote in one of the messages, according to a transcript.
"We will know what?" the girl asked.
"When to have sex without getting caught," he replied.
Kerlin, who was charged with solicitation of a minor and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, was released from jail after posting bonds totaling $53,000. After initially being placed on desk duty, he was suspended without pay from his job at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on June 18.
Kerlin's attorney did not respond to a request from New Times seeking comment.
According to investigators, the text messages started off innocuously and started to become sexual in April. After Kerlin asked the girl if she was "being good or bad," she told him to download Snapchat, where he later viewed photos of her.
A few days later, Kerlin sent the teen a text describing in graphic detail the sexual activities he fantasized about doing with her. He also asked for and received a nude photo of her.
On April 13, Kerlin's wife found a nude photo of a woman on his phone but apparently did not realize she was a teenager. According to an arrest report, Kerlin sent the girl a text saying they would have to "be good" for a while.
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"Further conversations implied Kerlin and [the girl] engaged in sexual activity," detectives wrote in the report.
Just days after PBCSO began investigating, Kerlin sent the girl's father a text apologizing for the texts but denying he'd had sex with the teen.
"I know the texting was inappropriate and wrong. But please believe me I did not lay a finger on her," he wrote, according to reports. "I'm so sorry. I'm a fucking idiot."
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue says Kerlin will remain on unpaid suspension pending an internal investigation. As of now, the criminal case also remains pending.