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Molestation charges follow man from Hernando to Pasco

Frank Torres will spend the rest of his life in prison, plus another 125 years to boot, for molesting a young girl in Hernando County over a span of several years.

Now officials in Pasco County plan to prosecute him on another charge of abusing the same victim.

Why spend the resources trying a man who will never live outside a prison again?

"Cases are reversed all the time for different reasons," said Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for Pinellas and Pasco counties. "On an individual like this who appears to be a pretty bad buy, why not control your own destiny?"

A Hernando jury convicted Torres, 53, in November of nine separate sex crimes, and a judge handed down the sentence last month. A week later, he was brought to the jail in Land O'Lakes where he now awaits trial for capital sexual battery, which carries another potential life sentence.

Authorities say Torres abused the girl in Lumberton in 2005 and 2006, beginning when she was 8 years old. It continued one county north, officials say, on occasions when the girl was visiting a relative.

Torres admitted to engaging in sex acts short of intercourse with the girl. Now 14 years old, she testified in his trial last year about what happened.

Bartlett said his office is moving forward with its case because of the seriousness of the crime and the possibility that Torres' other convictions could be overturned on appeal.

"A guy that abuses children should go to prison (for life), and we want to be sure that's where he goes and stays," Bartlett said.

But Robert Newmiller, Torres' brother who is caring for Torres' 16-year-old daughter, called a second prosecution "overkill."

"It's extremely improbable that he would win on an appeal. He was convicted on a number of counts," said Newmiller, 50, who lives in Pennsylvania.

He also questioned the impact on the girl who was abused, who might have to testify again.

"The reality of it is that the victim will be further victimized unnecessarily," Newmiller said.

Bartlett disputed the argument that another trial would waste taxpayer dollars.

"It's not that big of a deal (financially) to try a capital sexual battery that's a confession case," he said. "The taxpayers pay us to work all day, all week. It's not like we've got to pay somebody to come in and deal with this."

He added that his office would consider a plea deal with Torres for a long prison term, but not dismissing the case.

"If we drop our charges and he somehow got out of what happened up there (in Hernando County), then we don't have any more charges," Bartlett said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Molestation charges follow man from Hernando to Pasco 02/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 4, 2011 8:35pm]
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