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Man's release angers mother who says he abused her child

The woman accused the former state DCF investigator of raping her son, but a delay by prosecutors in filing charges sets him free.

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


She thought she and her family would be safe.

But a Lake County woman, who said a former child abuse investigator raped her son, said she is living in fear after the Spring Hill man was released from jail last week because prosecutors failed to file charges in time.

"I have gone through everything I could to protect my family, and now this happens," the mother said Monday. "It's absolutely irresponsible." The Times is withholding the mother's name to protect her son's privacy.

Francis "Frank" McCarthy, 51, of Spring Hill was released from a Lake County jail Thursday despite previously being held without bail.

Although police say he raped and abused a boy from age 2 to 7, McCarthy's release was ordered by a judge because the law requires a person to be freed within 33 days of his or her arrest if formal charges are not filed. McCarthy was arrested Sept. 27.

Officials with the State Attorney's Office in Lake County could not be reached for comment Monday. But Detective Marselien Crow of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said she was told the prosecutor on the McCarthy case, Anita Geraci, was recently on vacation and that's at least partly why she did not file.

"I'm surprised, personally," Crow said, adding that prosecutors can still file charges later. "I hope they will."

Crow, lead detective on the McCarthy case, said also that the prosecutor may be unsure whether the boy will make a good witness.

"Their job is to make sure they have a rock solid case," Crow said. "But there is no doubt in my mind this child can testify."

The mother said she is furious that prosecutors have done little work on her 8-year-old son's case. She said she first learned McCarthy was going to be released from jail after receiving a call from jail employees the same night McCarthy was released.

"I said, "What can I do to stop this?' And they said, "Nothing, the judge has already signed the order,' " she said.

The mother said Geraci has never met with her or her son, or even called to ask questions or introduce herself. Nor did she notify the mother about the hearing at which the judge ruled to let McCarthy go. The first time they talked was last week, when the mother called Geraci's office upset about McCarthy's release, she said.

When McCarthy was first arrested, officials called it an unusually tragic case. From the time the child was 2 to 7, police say McCarthy would show pornographic movies, tie the child to a bed and then perform sex acts on the boy or force the boy to perform sex acts on him.

McCarthy, a child abuse investigator for the Department of Children and Families for seven years starting in 1993, knew the boy personally and saw him regularly.

The two did not meet through work. McCarthy, who had no misconduct record with the department, resigned from his job as an abuse investigator after being convicted of beating his wife in 1999. He resides at his mother's Spring Hill home and is unemployed.

Given the nature of the accusations against McCarthy, as well as his prior violent record, the mother of the boy says she is afraid.

The mother already has an injunction against McCarthy that forbids contact, and Lake sheriff's officials have added a patrol to her neighborhood.

But the mother says she feels uneasy and frustrated.

"I felt comfortable that he was locked up," she said. "Now, he has nothing to lose. He has nothing to keep him from coming back here."

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