For four years, Stephen Michael Governale hobnobbed with the world’s military leaders as a protocol officer for U.S. Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base. He’s seen in a picture of former Centcom commanding general David Petraeus shaking hands with the head of Pakistan’s military and last year, and he was one of two to win the command’s civilian of the year award.
But FBI agents say there is another side to Governale, an Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel who works with Centcom as a civilian.
Friday, he was arrested in Orlando, charged with using the Internet to try and persuade a 17-year-old to have sex. In a federal complaint, the teen tells investigators he traveled with Governale on two occasions and engaged in sexual acts with him.
Governale, 49, of Tampa, was arrested by the FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force after he arrived at a fast-food restaurant where he planned to meet the teen after several sexually explicit Facebook chats.
Investigators, according to the records, say they became aware of Governale's relationship with the teen after his parents saw sexually explicit Facebook messages between the two. The teen told investigators he met Governale in October 2009 through an organization affiliated with the military. The documents do not say which organization.
In September 2010, the teen accompanied Governale to a conference in Brevard County and stayed with him in a hotel room, where they shared a bed, watched pornography and engaged in a sex act, according to the criminal complaint against Governale filed Saturday.
Governale took the teen on another trip this year, according to the complaint, picking him up in Seminole County and taking him to a function at Patrick Air Force Base, where they again shared a hotel room and engaged in sex acts.
The teen told investigators that after that, "almost all of Governale's Facebook contacts" with the teen "have been sexual in nature" and Governale was trying to convince the teen to get together again for more sex acts.
One chat included a picture of Governale in his Air Force uniform, according to the complaint.
On Sept. 12, the teen and his parents gave investigators permission to assume his Facebook identity. FBI agents, pretending to be the teen, engaged in more sexually explicit conversations with Governale.
During one chat, Governale said he would pick up the teen at a Wendy's restaurant about 2:30 p.m. Friday. He was arrested when he arrived, according to documents.
Governale told the teen about other males he has known for years who are now between 19 and 21 years old and with whom he also engaged in sex acts, according to the complaint. One of the sex chats recorded by the FBI includes references to "another possible victim in the case," according to the complaint.
No other victims have yet come forward, according to Seminole County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Cannaday, who said that Governale told investigators that there are no other victims. The office is part of the Innocent Images Task Force, she said, adding the teen is from Seminole County. The FBI would not comment.
Efforts to reach Governale were unsuccessful. His wife, Terry Governale, declined comment.
On his Facebook page, Governale states that he had worked for Petraeus, now the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
In April 2010, Governale posted a photo that includes himself, Petraeus and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani army.
In March 2010, Governale, an Air Force Reserve liaison officer to the Civilian Air Patrol, posted a picture of himself and a cadet who won an award.
"This is why I love my job," Governale wrote. "Youth that have direction and determination. Definitely proud here."
Governale's Facebook page mentions that he is married with children.
Governale, who has been appointed a federal public defender, is in custody at the Seminole County Jail with no bail set pending a preliminary hearing Oct. 1.