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Police say the man was arrested after exposing himself to two young girls and touching one of them.
By CHRIS TISCH
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 21, 2001
LARGO -- People were impressed with David Paine.
Yes, Paine was convicted of exposing himself to three young girls in 1991, but he quickly pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to a form of house arrest and probation.
His sentence later was lessened after a corrections official described him as a model subject. While on probation, he became a treatment center counselor and appeared on community access television to talk about sex-abuse issues.
He finally moved into a southwest Largo neighborhood, where people allowed their kids to play with his young son. Children slept over at his house. He attended pool parties.
No one, however, knew he was a registered sex offender.
Then a few days ago, an 11-year-old in the neighborhood told police that Paine touched her breast and exposed himself.
Police believed the girl's story after she said Paine's penis was pierced with a ring. Police seized off Paine's body a ring fitting the girl's description.
On Monday afternoon, Paine, 38, was arrested on two child sex abuse charges. He was being held Tuesday night at the Pinellas County Jail on $200,000 bail.
Largo police Officer Rex Troche said Paine denied exposing himself to the girl, but admitted to talking to the child about his pierced penis.
Police say the case is a good example of why parents need to tap into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Web site -- www.fdle.state.fl.us -- that lists all sex offenders. People can zoom in on their areas to learn what offenders live near them.
"We were aware of it and we had previously searched it. But at the time that we did it, we weren't really looking for anybody in particular," said the girl's mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the child. "And we really didn't pull up a lot of names and faces."
Now, she plans to look at the site closer. She would have acted differently around Paine had she known about his past. She also would have kept him away from her girls.
Paine was arrested in October 1991 after three girls under the age of 11 reported seeing him standing in his garage naked, except for socks, one morning when they were walking to school. The girls told police Paine sat down on a bench and masturbated while he watched them.
Without neighbors knowing about his past, Paine developed a pleasant relationship with the victim's family after meeting them on Labor Day. Paine took his son and the victim's young brother fishing, and he often called over to the house to check on his son.
"I thought he was a great dad," the victim's mother said.
On Thursday afternoon, Paine came into the victim's home to check on his son. The 11-year-old girl had another young female friend in the home with her. The parents were out.
Troche said Paine then grabbed the girl's breast. She slapped his hand away, the officer said.
Paine then asked the girls if they wanted to see his ring, then pulled aside his shorts, exposed his penis and started flicking the penis ring, Troche said.
The girls then asked him to leave. The second girl was out of town Monday and Tuesday, but is scheduled to return soon and will be interviewed. More charges are possible against Paine, Troche said.
Troche said that when the 11-year-old girl told him what happened, she tucked in her arms and legs, almost in a fetal position. Once a bubbly and jovial child, she now threatens to punch or kick anyone who touches her.
"She's scared," her mother said.