MULBERRY — It was through Facebook, detectives say, that a Mulberry man met a woman and established a sexual relationship with her.
The only problem, detectives say, is that the man is 24, and the girl is only 15 years old.
He also traveled a long way to meet the girl, Polk County detectives say: all the way from Central Florida to North Carolina. It was the girl’s mother who learned about the relationship and tipped off police.
On Tuesday, Aug. 14, Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Victims Unit detectives arrested 24-year-old Pablo Garcia-Sanchez of Mulberry, then charged him with 50 counts of lewd battery on a minor under 16 years of age, one count of interference with child custody, and one count of sheltering an unmarried minor.
It was, noted Carrie Eleazer, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, done for “an ongoing sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who ran away from home in Kernersville, North Carolina to be with him.”
It was through the social media site Facebook that Sanchez met the 15-year-old girl about three months ago, Eleazer said, adding “When the girl’s mother learned of the online relationship, she told Sanchez to stay away from her daughter.”
But that’s not how it played out, Eleazer said.
“Instead, Sanchez drove up to North Carolina, telling the girl, ‘I don’t care what your mom says, I love you,’ ” Eleazer noted, based on information from the arrest affidavit.
Sanchez then drove the girl to his house in Mulberry, detectives say, and initiated a sexual relationship between them.
Because the girl had been reported missing by her family, North Carolina detectives issued a “pick-up order” for the girl. North Carolina detectives learned that the juvenile had gone to Polk County, and contacted detectives there.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office went to Sanchez’s home and, detectives say, found the girl staying there.
“Both Sanchez and the girl admitted to having an ongoing sexual relationship,” Eleazer said, adding that they had another surprise as well.
“Both told detectives that the girl is pregnant as a result of the relationship,” she noted.
Sanchez has been booked into the Polk County Jail, while the girl was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center and is expected to be transported back to North Carolina.
“The investigation is ongoing, and further charges are pending,” Eleazer noted.
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