SPRING HILL, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man accused of trying to buy a 16-year-old for sex says he never knew the girl’s age.
Ivan Ashley, 49, of Antioch was one of 18 men arrested in a major sting operation at a Spring Hill hotel.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases, as part of a two-day investigation that began July 8.
Undercover agents told News 2 the evidence is clear that all the suspects should have known they were engaging a person claiming to be 16 years of age.
Ivan Ashley, now in the Maury County Jail charged with Patronizing Prostitution, admitted to ordering a woman online, but he denied knowing that she was a minor.
“I feel guilty, or unclean, but like I said, I am not perfect,” Ashley said.
Shirley described the moments prior to his arrest.
“You could tell it was a trap. I got a text message, and I pulled up. I sat in the parking lot, and before you know it, the cops came out and I am arrested for prostitution of a minor,” he said.
Despite what police say is overwhelming evidence to support their case, Ashley says he didn’t know the person he was communicating with claimed to be a minor:
Andy Cordan: Did you knowingly try and get a teenage girl to have sex with you?
Ivan Ashley: No.
Andy Cordan: Was it clear to you that they said “I am a 16-year-old girl” or that you would be having sex with a 16-year-old girl, even though it was probably a police officer pretending to be?
Ashley: No. No. No.
Ashley is a father of six. He told News 2 he has two boys ages 22 and 13. He has four girls ages 20,19, 8 and 2.
“Yes it is troubling I am here, because my youngest daughter loves me, and for her to go to mommy and ask why is daddy incarcerated for messing with a 16-year-old girl, her momma wouldn’t be able to answer that,” Ashley said.
When asked what he would say to his daughters if they watch this interview, Ashley said, “Daddy made a mistake.”
Ashley says he is embarrassed to be one of the 18 men caught up in the Spring Hill sex sting.
“I apologize. I am only human. Not because I said I am only human. We all sin from the day we were born. I accept my sin. And I hope all of us do accept ours.”
When pressed on the issue of the age of the girl he thought he was purchasing, Ashley quickly talks about the woman in the room, presumably a police undercover operative. Ashley says she was clearly not a minor. At one point in the interview, Ashley called her a police impersonator and said the case will come down to his word against the officer’s.
When asked about this, police told News 2 they most certainly did not use a minor in this operation, and every communication sent to the men indicated that the prostitute they were agreeing to meet with was a 16-year-old girl.
Police wouldn’t elaborate on their case, but tell News 2 they have substantial evidence to prosecute successfully.
Ashley is charged with patronizing prostitution. His bond is set at $25,000.
When asked if he has been in trouble before, Ashley claims this is his first offense.
He also laughed, looking over his shoulders, asking, “Do you see a halo or wings?”
“Yes, I’ve been in trouble before and I thank my dad for being behind me 1,000 percent. I love him dearly. I hope he will forgive me for coming back to a joint like this. Even if it costs me my life. I promised him I won’t do it,” Ashley said.
News 2 checked with Davidson, Cheatham, Maury, Williamson, Dickson, and Sumner county sheriff’s departments. All revealed Ashley had no prior arrest history.