CEO of children's organization arrested at Clearwater hotel for sex with minor

Police arrested a guest at a Clearwater Beach hotel after they say he brought a runaway teen there for sex.

Larry Lawson, 35, was CEO of a children's services organization in West Virginia, tasked with protecting society's most vulnerable. But a thousand miles away, at the Edge Hotel, Clearwater police say they found him with a boy less than half his age.

Hotel staff recalled Lawson, from Ohio, and his 16-year-old companion, from Pennsylvania, acting strangely.

Last Friday, their stay ended abruptly with Lawson being booked into the Pinellas County jail, charged with having sex with a minor, interference with custody, sheltering an unmarried minor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 

"When you have a minor with custody dispute in a sexual relationship, that's something a parent has the ability and right to reach out to the police department and make sure their child is safe," said Joelle Castelli, Clearwater Police Department Spokesperson.

Police say their relationship began two years ago when the two met on social media. They say Lawson picked up the teen and they drove from Pennsylvania to Florida.

When the teen's concerned mother checked her son's Snapchat, she grew suspicious he was in Clearwater Beach with an adult.

"The mother alerted the police department that there was a runaway juvenile," Castelli said. "Clearwater police investigated and found the juvenile and an adult male at a hotel in Clearwater and arrested the male and, after investigating, found out that there was a sexual relationship."

Police say "both were not cooperative and denied any sexual contact occurred."

But when the teen later admitted sexual acts taken place in the hotel room and during the road trip, Lawson was arrested. He has since bonded out of jail.  

Adding to the disturbing nature of the case was Lawson's job. He served as the CEO of Children Solutions LLC, a private organization in West Virginia with a "mission to protect children and to assist families in need."

A representative with Children Solutions confirmed that Lawson was dismissed from his position as of Friday. The organization says it will take on a different name and ownership.