More than a month after authorities launched an investigation into claims of juvenile's sexual abuse, a 69-year-old Homosassa man is now in custody.
William Charles Hale Jr. was arrested Thursday, Feb. 18, on two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 16, one count of promoting a child's sexual performance -- second-degree felonies -- and one count of unlawfully using a two-way communication device, a third-degree felony. No bond was set.
According to a Citrus County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) news release, the agency was contacted Jan. 10 in reference to a past sexual assault of a juvenile.
Deputies contacted the victim, who disclosed inappropriate contact with Hale on several occasions. Based on the allegations, Detective Jonathan Richey, with the sheriff's office's Special Victims Unit, launched an investigation.
Due to their age, the victim was interviewed by a Child Protection Team at Jessie's Place, Citrus County's child advocacy center. During the interview, the release stated, the victim told authorities they had been coerced and threatened over the past several months into sending Hale explicit photographs.
In return, Hale allegedly provided the victim with prescription medication, money, nicotine products and a cellphone. The victim also told investigators Hale initiated inappropriate sexual contact over the past few years.
Detective Richey interviewed Hale on Thursday, Feb. 18, at the CCSO's Emergency Operations Center. During the interview, Hale made several admissions corroborating the victim's allegations before he was arrested and transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility.
"Hale is the textbook example of a predator whom parents fear the most,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “He manipulated this young victim and exploited their innocence for several years for his own gratification. Detective Richey's work with our community partners at the Department of Children and Families, the Child Protective Team, and the State Attorney's Office will help bring justice to the victim as well as help begin the healing process."