A homeless man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly molesting a young girl who was seeking refuge from Hurricane Michael a day earlier in Florida, according to police.
John Stapleton, 60, is accused of touching a 6-year-old girl inappropriately while they both were inside Davidson Middle School, which opened its doors as a temporary emergency shelter during the hurricane, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
A witness told sheriff deputies she saw a recording of the child being touched in a lewd manner underneath her clothing.
“Investigators reviewed the video and say Stapleton later admitted touching the victim, but says he says it was not in a lewd manner,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a statement.
Stapleton claimed the victim told him his “touching felt good,” according to court documents seen by FOX Baltimore.
The suspect has been charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 12. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time.
Stapleton is awaiting a hearing, and he has been denied bond , according to online records.
He does not appear to have any prior molestation arrests and he is not a registered sex offender.
“OCSO was screening people and checking IDs prior to entry [of the shelter]!” one person posted on Facebook in response to the press release on the incident. “This sick individual just hadn't been caught till now!”
As people took shelter from the storm, at least 11 deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years.
Search and rescue teams have been searching bodies throughout Virginia and Florida on Friday; it has reportedly caused over 8 billion dollars in damages already, according to WEAR-TV in Pensacola.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office]
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