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    Ex-investigator is accused of child sex abuse

    Police say the former state employee raped and abused a young boy for five years.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2000

    SPRING HILL -- His job was to protect children.

    But authorities say a former abuse investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families raped and abused a young boy for five years.

    Francis "Frank" McCarthy, 51, of Spring Hill, was arrested Wednesday night. McCarthy had worked for the state's child welfare agency in Lake County from March 1993 until January 1999, when he resigned after he was arrested -- and later convicted -- on charges of beating his wife, records show.

    Lake County sheriff's officials say that from the time the boy was 2 until he turned 7, McCarthy would put on pornographic movies, tie the child to a bed and then perform acts on the boy or force the boy to perform acts on him.

    "This is really a heart-wrenching case. This child is going to need a lot of counseling," said Lt. Cecil Garrett of the Lake Sheriff's Office.

    The boy, now 8, whose identity is being withheld because of the nature of the case, was not someone McCarthy met through work but someone he knew and saw regularly.

    After learning of McCarthy's arrest, DCF officials said they would do a "cursory review" of all the cases he worked on over the six years he was with the agency, particularly those involving sexual abuse.

    They know of no specific incidents of misconduct, however, and do not plan on reopening all of the cases, said Ron Zychowski, deputy director of DCF's 13th District.

    "We are going to look at all the cases, look at the maltreatment and sex abuse, and the outcomes, to see if there are any problems, if anything pops out at us," the deputy director said. "But we will not reopen every one. There is a considerable amount of oversight in these cases, and an investigator can't just close one (without reason)."

    Lake County investigators say they first received information about the alleged abuse Tuesday, when the boy's mother called the department. Garrett said the mother had noticed some disturbing behavior on the boy's part and confronted the child about it.

    The boy then told her that he had been abused by McCarthy, Garrett said.

    Detectives from both Lake and Hernando counties arrested McCarthy on Wednesday evening at his mother's home in Spring Hill. McCarthy, who is unemployed, denied the allegations.

    He faces charges of capital sexual battery, aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. McCarthy was in the Hernando County Jail on Thursday night without bail. If convicted, he could spend life in prison.

    McCarthy's mother, 70-year-old Avis McCarthy, said her son could not have possibly hurt the boy. Before her son moved to Florida, she said, McCarthy was a math teacher and then a high school principal in New York and Pennsylvania. "He's a very nice gentleman. He loves children," Mrs. McCarthy said. "As far as him molesting a child, that's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard."

    An article appearing Aug. 11, 1990, in the Philadelphia Inquirer states that McCarthy resigned as principal of Harriton High School in Lower Merion, citing personal reasons.

    - Staff writer Curtis Krueger and researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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