A 23-year-old Bradenton man was arrested Saturday after being accused of traveling to Ocala to meet a 16-year-old boy for sex.
The man and the boy were getting their nails done at a nail salon in a shopping plaza in Ocala when the boy’s father called police around 4:30 p.m. According to Ocala Police Department reports, the father told police the man had been meeting the boy frequently, dating back to when he was 15 years old.
The man apparently exited the salon through the back door when police entered the nail salon. The 16-year-old was standing near the back door and police asked the boy to call the man and have him return. The man did in fact return and apparently told officers he met the boy through an online dating site last September, but could not remember the name of the site. He allegedly admitted that they texted, then spoke on the phone and that in December he came to Ocala to meet with the teen.
According to reports, the man said the teen listed his age as 18 on the online profile, but that he later disclosed he was 16.
Police claim the man told them that he and the teen engaged in oral sex in a parking lot in December. The boy told him he was actually 15 and the man said they agreed not to have further sexual activity until the boy turned 16 in January, according to reports.
Police claim the teen gave a similar story and added that he and the man had sex on four different occasions, but he was unsure of the dates.
The man was booked into the Marion County Jail and charged with one count each of lewd and lascivious battery and traveling to meet with a child. He was released from jail on Sunday after posting a $15,500 bond.
Any criminal offense that involves sexual activity with a minor is quite serious. Travelling to meet a minor is classified as a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. You can be charged with this crime regardless of whether any sexual activity actually occurred. It does not matter how far of a distance you travelled to meet the minor in question. As long as the prosecution can prove that you made contact with a minor and then arranged to meet the child for the purpose of sexual activity, you can be convicted of this crime. If convicted, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be facing up to 15 years in prison, mandatory registration as a sexual offender and hefty fines.
If you have been accused of or charged with traveling to meet a minor, you must act fast and protect your legal rights. A Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney can investigate all alleged interactions that occurred between you and the minor to determine the best defense strategy. For a free initial consultation, please call our Ocala office at 352-369-5334 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.
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