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3 Pasco men accused of abusing minors

One is accused of beating a girl; the two others are accused of having sexual contact with girls.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 9, 2001


Law enforcement officers in east Pasco on Wednesday had their hands full with suspects who allegedly couldn't keep their hands off minors.

At least three east Pasco County men were arrested for inappropriately sexually touching or abusing girls.

Zephyrhills police arrested an 18-year-old man on charges of having sex with a child under 13.

Benjamin Raines of 5519 Ninth St. in Zephyrhills was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct in the incident.

Raines told Zephyrhills police officers that he had oral and sexual intercourse with the child and knew her age at the time.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies arrested a 41-year-old Dade City man Wednesday who they say engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl.

Vincent Sandoval of 15139 Myrtle St. was charged in connection with an incident in July 2000.

Deputies said Sandoval took the 14-year-old girl and her 11-year-old old brother to a hotel room in Wesley Chapel. When the brother fell asleep, Sandoval got in bed with the girl and began fondling her.

The girl confirmed the story to deputies and said the act was consensual. Sandoval was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct.

Also Wednesday, Zephyrhills police arrested a 36-year-old man on charges of child abuse after he beat a Zephyrhills High School student, a report stated.

Michael Lee Stapleton of 5300 Tangerine Drive was arrested after the student told officers and a school official that Stapleton had hit her numerous times after a dispute on Tuesday.

She said Stapleton held her face with her hands and pushed her into a closet, injuring her back. He also held her on the floor of the closet and hit her on the left side of her face with an open hand.

She said he later hit her in the right side of the head with a closed fist, the report stated. Police said the girl had injuries that were consistent with her story and that Stapleton had admitted her account was accurate.

The girl's age wasn't released, and it wasn't clear if the two were related.

All three men were taken to Land O'Lakes jail, where two of them remained Thursday evening.

Stapleton posted $5,000 bail early Thursday morning.

Sandoval remained Thursday in lieu of $2,000 bail. And Raines remained in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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