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2 held in sexual battery case

Deputies seek a third man linked to an attack reported by a 15-year-old girl who had been walking on U.S. 19 in Homosassa.

By CARRIE JOHNSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


HOMOSASSA -- The 15-year-old girl was torn: She had planned to walk to a friend's house when trouble pulled up beside her in the form of a white Nissan.

There were three men in the car, and they wanted to take her for a ride. She resisted at first but finally decided to take a chance.

A few hours later, her parents called the Citrus County Sheriff's Office to report their daughter had been sexually assaulted.

Now two men -- one of whom was convicted five years ago of participating in the gang rape of an Inverness woman -- have been arrested. Investigators from the Sheriff's Office are looking for a third suspect.

Kasda D. Atkins, 18, of Crystal River and Derrick H. Washington, 20, are being held on charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a child under 16 and possession of child pornography.

Washington was a juvenile at the time of his previous arrest and accepted a sentence of no fewer than 90 days in the Brooksville Short-Term Offender program.

He and four other teenagers were convicted of raping a 27-year-old mother of three after an Aug. 27, 1995, party in her apartment, while she was unconscious and in front of her 5-year-old son.

Gail Tierney, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said the 15-year-old girl knows the suspects, although Tierney did not know the nature of their relationship.

The girl's name is being withheld because of her age and the nature of the crimes she has reported.

She was walking along U.S. 19 about 9 p.m. in the southern end of Homosassa when the men attempted to coax her into the car, Tierney said. "They said, "Come on, get in the car,' " she said. "It was not the kind of situation where she was snatched."

According to an arrest report, Atkins was the driver of the car and both men had been drinking. They drove the girl to a dirt road off County Road 490 in Homosassa and told her to take off her clothes, the report said. Then, both men had intercourse with the girl and forced her to perform sex acts on them, the girl told police. Later, Atkins took Polaroid pictures of her, the report said.

The men drove the girl back to the spot where they had found her and drove off. She called her parents, who contacted the Sheriff's Office.

The girl's parents took her to Seven Rivers Community Hospital, where she was examined.

The men told deputies they had sex with the girl, the arrest report said, and both said they wore condoms during the encounter.

During the interview, a detective found two Polaroid pictures of the girl in Washington's pocket. Washington told them that Atkins had taken the pictures of the girl during the encounter. Atkins confirmed his story.

Tierney said deputies are still searching for a third suspect. It is not known whether he participated in the sexual encounter, Tierney said.

To Washington's older brother, Elijah Franklin, the news of the arrest was unsettling.

"My mom told me about it last night," said Franklin, 29. "I guess he's going to do what he's going to do."

Franklin said he didn't know anything about the Tuesday night incident. He said his brother had tried to get his life back on track after the 1996 conviction and played football for Lecanto High School.

Washington is currently unemployed. "My mom's trying to get him to go back to school, but he didn't want to go," Franklin said. Washington and Atkins have been friends for more than 10 years and frequently get together to play basketball and hang out, Franklin said.

A call to Atkins' residence was not returned Thursday.

Of the five teens convicted in the rape of the Inverness woman, two served time in prison.

In December 1996, a judge sentenced Dwight Neil to serve six years and five months in state prison. Neil, now 24, was released from prison in September, according to the state Department of Corrections. The time he spent in jail awaiting trial was counted toward his sentence.

Eric Chester, meanwhile, remains in prison. A judge sentenced him to serve an 11-year term. His tentative release date is February 2006, state records showed.

Arthur Key accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testifying against Chester. He was convicted of sexual battery and sentenced to complete a pretrial intervention program.

Adrian Jackson, like Washington, was convicted as a juvenile. He was sentenced to stay at the Eckerd Youth Challenge Program in Brooksville for four to six months.

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