Online solicitation arrests

Top, from left: Michael David Bylsma, Jesse Bennett Mason

Bottom, from left: James Monte Montgomery, Jordan Spencer Butler Rook 

The mayor of an East Texas town as well as three other Longview-area men have been charged after police said they tried to solicit sex online with investigators posing as minors.

Athens Mayor James “Monte” Montgomery, who resigned Friday, and the others were booked into the Gregg County Jail after the operation conducted Wednesday and Thursday, according to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The DPS operation was in conjunction with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Collin County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Homeland Security Investigations.

Charged in the operation are:

Montgomery, 63, of Athens, was released from jail Thursday on $300,000 bond on a charge of online solicitation of a minor sexual conduct.

Jesse Bennett Mason, 40, of Hallsville, remained jailed Friday on bonds totaling $75,000 on charges of online solicitation of a minor sexual conduct; possession with intent to promote child pornography; and possession of child pornography.

Jordan Rook, 23, remained jailed Friday, charged with online solicitation of a minor. Bond information was unavailable. Rook’s residence is listed as Longview by DPS but Kilgore in Gregg County Jail records.

Michael David Bylsma, 42, remained jailed Friday, charged with online solicitation of a minor. Bond information was unavailable. Bylsma’s residence is listed as White Oak by DPS but Karnack in Gregg County Jail records.

“Solicitation of a minor involves a defendant asking or engaging in a conversation with a minor and during the course of that conversation, the defendant asks (or solicits) the minor to meet them for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act,” DPS said in the statement.

Montgomery stepped down from his post Friday as news spread about his arrest. According to the city of Athens website, his term was set to end in 2023.

City officials said they will appoint an interim mayor within the month.

The city released a statement early Friday that says city officials were shocked to learn about Montgomery’s arrest.

“These are very serious allegations and the City of Athens does not take them lightly,” the statement said. “We are committed to the protection and safety of our children. The City Council will be considering all possible actions as details become available.”

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