A Florida man, Ramirez, pleaded guilty to molesting three young girls in his care.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of sexual assault that some readers may find distressing
A 32-year-old man from DeFuniak Springs, Jacob Ramirez was found guilty of sexually abusing three young girls, reports Fox News. Defuniak Springs is a small city of 7,000 people situated in Florida. The three survivors aged seven to 12 were left in his care, according to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. Ramirez was first accused in the month of July a year ago in 2021. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) was assisted by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in this investigation. During the 2021 arrest, Sheriff Michael Adkinson said, "This is part of our relentless pursuit of charging sexual predators who prey on children and getting them out of our community and behind bars.'
Ramirez was first charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of two victims under the age of 12. Later, he was also charged for lasciviously abusing a victim of 12 years or above, adds New York Post. Three children were identified as victims after being interviewed on July 18, 2021, at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. Ramirez was arrested the same day that another man was taken into custody by the WCSO for alleged child molestation, as Northwest Florida Daily News reports. Judge Kevin Wells sentenced Ramirez to serve two life sentences, in addition to 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections, State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden announced in a press release. More details about this case haven't been made public yet.
In the other case of molestation by a Florida man on a juvenile under his care, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports that a mother of one of the juveniles contacted WCSO after she discovered written entries in her 12-year-old daughter’s journal describing the alleged sexual abuse. Investigators were told the abuse started when 19-year-old Ian Smith of DeFuniak Springs was asked to look after the juvenile and he molestated her for months. Smith pleaded guilty to the allegations and is charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a 12-year-old victim and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation. Both men are being held on $1 million bonds at the Walton County Jail.
Florida law criminalizes sexual activity with minors under 16 years of age. Even if there was consent, engaging or enticing a minor to have intimate relations is considered a lewd and lascivious offense. For sexual crimes against minors, the state of Florida, punishes the culprit with imprisonment ranging from at least five years to life imprisonment, according to Goldman Wetzel. 'Lewd and lascivious, also known as statutory rape, are actions of sexual nature that involve a person younger than 16 years. Given that people this age have not met the age of consent, having any type of intimate contact with them is considered illegal in Florida, even if the relationship was consensual.'
Cover Image: Walton County Sheriff's Office
If you are being subjected to sexual assault, or know of anyone who is, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)