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Facility employee charged with rape of troubled teen

A sheriff's report says the 32-year-old forced himself on the girl at Sunshine Youth Services.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- A 32-year-old employee of a facility for troubled young teens was charged Wednesday with raping a 15-year-old girl at the home, said Pasco County sheriff's officials.

According to a deputy's report, Nathanial Dwayne Cox, an employee of the Sunshine Youth Services, entered the girl's room at 2 a.m. on Nov. 4 and woke her up.

Cox fondled the girl then raped her, the report said. The girl told Cox "no," and Cox replied "Stop worrying," officials said.

Cox told deputies that he is a "program tech-guard" at Sunshine. On Thursday, a supervisor answering the phone at the facility would not comment on Cox's case or employment status.

Cox was arrested at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and charged with one count of sexual battery.

He was taken to the county jail in Land O'Lakes, where he is being held on a $20,000 bail.

Cox' wife, Lisa Cox, said Thursday that the charge is untrue and the girl should not be believed because she is a "mental health patient."

Sunshine Youth Services, at 21808 State Road 54, is a low-level security facility that opened in June. The facility houses teens ages 13-18 who have been arrested for misdemeanor crimes and who have mental disabilities.

This isn't the center's first brush with sheriff's deputies.

In September, six boys at the center were arrested after deputies used pepper spray to controlan incident, according to reports. It was a racially charged fight, officials said.

State Juvenile Justice officials reviewed the incident and how it was handled. In October, state authorities said Sunshine staff mishandled the fight. Several staff members were disciplined.

-- Information from Times files was used in this report.

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