Friday, May 25, 2018
Public safety

Ex-convict accused of raping 14-year-old boy in Tampa

TAMPA — A homeless man recently released from state prison was accused Tuesday of raping a 14-year-old boy, police said.

The teen was walking home about 8:30 p.m. when a stranger in an alley approached him.

They started to chat. The man said he wanted to show him something.

When the teen started to walk, the stranger lifted him off the ground, carried him into a shed behind an abandoned home at 911 E 28th Ave., and raped the boy, an arrest affidavit shows.

The boy struggled and eventually escaped. He ran south on Nebraska Avenue and asked a police officer for help.

Officers later arrested the man while he sat at a nearby bus stop.

Steven James Taylor, 47, was released from state prison in June after serving about three years for burglary.

An investigation was still under way Wednesday as nearby residents reacted to news of the attack.

"It's crazy," said Angiee Blanco, 21. "I have a 4-year-old. I'm very concerned."

Blanco lives across the street from the abandoned house.

The shed, a faded peach color, stands behind the house in a fenced yard that opens up to an alley. A dirty, pink comforter was sitting in a corner of the shed on Wednesday.

Paola Quezada lives next door. On Tuesday night, her family was cutting a birthday cake for her 5-year-old grandson when officers arrived on her street.

"I was scared," Quezada said, adding that she and her daughter are looking into moving.

Patricia Jones said she was watching her 8-year-old granddaughter ride a bicycle Tuesday night when she saw a man pacing from the alley into the yard.

Jones continued supervising her granddaughter. On Wednesday morning, she turned on the television and heard the news.

She drove to her daughter's house, who lives a block from the abandoned home, to see if it was true. "I'm shook up from this," Jones, 39, said. "I just pray for that kid. "

Officers "proactively" patrol the area, where prostitution and gambling are common, Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said.

"We still rely on the community, who are our eyes and ears in those neighborhoods, to make us aware of when something suspicious is going on," she said.

Taylor now faces sexual battery and kidnapping charges.

In Hillsborough,he has been arrested on theft, burglary and battery charges. He also has a lengthy criminal record in Ohio that includes drugs and property crimes. In 2006, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced to prison in Ohio, records show. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail, where he remained Wednesday afternoon without bail.

Staff researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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