Stoney Westmoreland was an actor on Disney Channel’s top-rated show when, police said, he hailed a ride-share car to a Salt Lake City trailer park late Thursday, allegedly hoping to have sex with someone he believed to be a minor.
The 48-year old, who played a grandfather on the Disney Channel series “Andi Mack,” had used a dating app to meet a minor and sent explicit photos, authorities said.
And then, a plan was set into motion.
“He arranged to meet up with what he thought was a 13-year old,” Detective Greg Wilking, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department, said Saturday.
Instead, police waited for Westmoreland as midnight approached and arrested him in the sting without incident, Wilking told The Washington Post.
He was charged with five felony counts: one count of enticing a minor by Internet or text and four counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor. Wilking did not say which app Westmoreland allegedly used, or what gender he believed the child to be.
Westmoreland was being held at the Salt Lake County Jail on $30,000 bond as of Saturday afternoon, according to jail records.
It is not clear if he has an attorney. His management agency, Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates, did not return a request for comment.
Westmoreland plays Ham, one of few adult characters on “Andi Mack” and the wise grandfather of the title character, for 39 episodes across three seasons, according to the Internet Movie Database. His co-stars ranged from 14 to 17 years old.
He was fired from the network Friday, Disney Channel spokeswoman Patti McTeague said in a statement.
“Given the nature of the charges and our responsibility for the welfare of employed minors, we have released him from his recurring role and he will not be returning to work on the series which wraps production on its third season next week,” McTeague said.
“Andi Mack” is the Disney Channel’s top show, McTeague said. It is also rated No. 1 on any network for girls 6-14, drawn by its depiction of Andi Mack on an adventure of self-discovery.
That also happens with her friends; the show became the first Disney Channel program to feature a gay character coming out, Variety reported.
Westmoreland, who had appeared in the films “War Dogs,” “Matchstick Men” and “Godzilla,” was caught in a type of sting that has become increasingly executed with mobile applications, Wilking said.
Before smartphones, police officers would have to comb through message boards and chat rooms to find adults looking to have sex with minors. It was more difficult and labor intensive in earlier years, Wilking said.
“[Police are] out there trolling, looking for people looking to hook up” using these apps, he said.