Man dies of overdose after boy's accusations

Published May 15, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - A 68-year-old man accused of molesting a mentally disabled boy killed himself last week after learning that he could face serious criminal charges, his attorney said Monday.

Donald Adams, a St. Petersburg resident, was accused of molesting a boy under the age of 8. After investigating, the Sheriff's Office turned the case over to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, which intended to pursue capital sexual battery charges against Adams.

Last Monday, Lucas Fleming, Adams' attorney, told him that he could face a capital sexual battery charge. Adams killed himself later that day by overdosing on prescription medication, Fleming said.

Fleming says he tried to persuade the State Attorney's Office not to file the charge because much of the case rested on the testimony of the boy, who was a young child.

"I had hoped that they would not file the charge given the significant hurdles the state would have faced in prosecuting the case, " Fleming said.

But Bruce Bartlett, the chief assistant in the State Attorney's Office, said the boy, now 11, gave consistent, detailed accounts of the sexual abuse, which he says took place five years ago. Bartlett said the State Attorney's Office, which was investigating the case but had not yet obtained a warrant for Adams' arrest, had found no reason not to pursue a capital sexual battery charge.

"I'm sorry about what happened to him Adams, " Bartlett said. "But he committed a crime, a very serious one."

Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.