Ex-MTV dating show contestant arrested on Lake County sex charges

A man who was a contestant nine years ago on an MTV show, wanted on sex-crime charges in Lake County, is being detained pretrial after allegedly eluding police for more than a year.

Connor N. Smith, 34, who was on the dating show “Are You the One” in 2015, was arrested March 29 in Pinellas County, Florida.

He made his first appearance in Lake County court Wednesday, where a judge denied pretrial release.

Smith, formerly of Orland Park and now of Clearwater, Florida, was charged Feb. 9, 2023 with traveling to meet a minor, grooming and disseminating harmful material, according to a Lake County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The case was investigated by the sheriff’s office and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. An undercover investigator posed online as a 15-year-old girl. Authorities say Smith sent sexually explicit images and videos of himself, then arranged to meet the girl for a sexual encounter.

When Smith arrived for that encounter detectives tried to arrest him, but he escaped, according to the sheriff’s news release.

The release said Smith said he would turn himself in the next day; he did not.

He was arrested after a news report about him aired in February on WFLD-TV FOX 32. Viewers in Illinois and Florida sent in tips about where he might be.

In 2021, Smith was charged in Indiana with rape, sexual battery and criminal confinement of a 16-year-old girl he had met online, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana.

Prosecutors dismissed the charges in September 2023, as the victim was not cooperating with investigators and could not be found, according to the Times.

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