Former MTV star arrested for grooming in Florida after nationwide manhunt that started over a year ago in Illinois

Following a nationwide manhunt that was initiated in Illinois and lasted more than a year, a former MTV star has been arrested in Florida for child sex crime accusations.

On Thursday afternoon, law enforcement tracked down Connor Smith at a residence in Clearwater, Florida.

Smith, 33, was arrested by officers with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on an open warrant originating from Lake County, Illinois. The warrant was issued in February 2023.

Smith, from Orland Park, Illinois, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail – where he is being held without bond. Smith is awaiting extradition to Illinois.

As Blaze News previously reported, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced that detectives obtained a nationwide arrest warrant for Smith.

The former MTV star was accused of committing three felonies: traveling to meet a minor, grooming, and disseminating harmful material.

Authorities said Smith attempted to groom a girl under the age of 15 and meet her for sex in Illinois.

Smith communicated with someone who he believed was a girl under the age of 15 for several weeks, according to police. However, the girl was actually an undercover detective.

The catfish was part of an undercover sting to catch child predators that was executed by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division in collaboration with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Smith reportedly sent the “girl” sexually explicit photos and videos of himself.

Smith allegedly attempted to meet the “child” for sex on Feb. 9, 2023. When Smith went to visit the “girl,” detectives attempted to arrest him, but he was able to escape the authorities.

In December 2021, Smith was arrested for an alleged rape and assault of a 16-year-old girl in Indiana. Smith was charged with felony rape, sexual battery, and two counts of criminal confinement.

However, the charges were dropped after the alleged victim stopped cooperating with investigators and prosecutors said they didn’t have enough evidence to convict him.

Smith’s claim to fame is appearing on the third season of the MTV reality series “Are You The One?” in 2015. The dating show features single contestants competing to find their perfect match.

Smith found his “perfect match,” but the couple split up after filming the reality TV show.

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