updated 4/2/2007 2:43:13 PM ET 2007-04-02T18:43:13

Three Walt Disney Co. employees were among 28 men charged with soliciting sex from a minor amid a weeklong sting operation in the Orlando area, authorities said.

The men, ranging in age from college students to their 40s and 50s, had chatted online with people they believed to be boys and girls, ages 13 and 14, Polk County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Donna Wood.

She said several agencies worked together to set up the sting at a Polk County home, where the suspects were arrested through Sunday.

Three of the men worked for Walt Disney Co., one as a 21-year-old intern, another as a 55-year-old part-time instructor at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the third as a 44-year-old electronics technician, according to the sheriff’s office.

The other men included laborers, food service workers and salesmen. One man said he was an IBM consultant; another a vice president for a South Florida real estate company, authorities said.

“We take matters like this very seriously,” Disney said in a statement released Monday. “The cast members have been placed on unpaid leave.”

Disney would not comment further on whether the employees had routine contact with children. The company said all cast members must pass background checks when they are hired.

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