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Guardians say teen charged with felony spurned pregnant girl

But the boy and his family say he visited her until the guardians obtained an injunction.

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001


LARGO -- A teenage boy charged with a felony for getting his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant didn't want anything to do with the girl throughout her pregnancy, the girl's guardians say.

Pinellas prosecutors have charged Joey Stellini, who is now 17, with a lewd and lascivious act on a child under 16 for having consensual sex with his girlfriend when he was 16. She gave birth to a boy on April 3.

In a St. Petersburg Times story about the case published April 8, Stellini and his parents say he called and visited the girl during her pregnancy. The girl's guardians refused to comment for that story.

In their first comment on the case, his girlfriend's guardians this week say Stellini "would no longer hold her hand or walk beside her in public."

In a letter sent to the media, they said: "After Christmas, he no longer came to visit her at our home and would not meet with her at other places after she had made arrangements for them together."

Hope Rogers, Stellini's mother, said the guardians obtained a court injunction from a circuit judge Feb. 8 forcing Stellini to stay away from his girlfriend. "Why would they have bothered doing that if my son had called it off and didn't want anything to do with the girl?" Rogers said. "It totally contradicts what they're saying."

Rogers said the teens frequently talked on the telephone, saw each other at Christmas and walked hand-in-hand over the holidays.

The girl and her guardians are not named in the story because she is considered, by law, to be the victim of a sex crime.

Asked about the statement on Tuesday, one of the girl's two guardians refused to comment, saying, "It will all come out in court."

The guardians also said Stellini responded "no comment" when someone from the hospital where his girlfriend gave birth called to ask whether he wanted his name on the baby's birth certificate.

John Trevena, Stellini's lawyer, said he instructed Stellini to make that response to anyone calling him about the baby as a precaution in the criminal case.

The guardians also said the Times story was inaccurate because it said the girl's mother gave up custody of the girl to the guardians. The guardians said the mother abandoned the girl, which is disputed by the mother and Stellini's parents.

A spokeswoman for Family Continuity Programs, the private, non-profit group which handles child placement for the state, said such information is confidential and will not verify which side is correct.

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