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Ex-employee accused of having sex with girl at Pinellas Park children's shelter

PINELLAS PARK — The former employee of a children's shelter is accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl while she lived at the shelter last year.

Phonphit Souvannarath, 40, of 2585 59th Ave. S, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of sexual battery. Police say he had sex at least three times with the victim in April.

Souvannarath was a children's shelter technician at Personal Enrichment Through Mental Health Services, 11254 58th St. N, said Pinellas Park police Capt. Sanfield Forseth.

That's where the incidents took place, Forseth said. Souvannarath's job involved supervising children, though he was not a counselor at the shelter, he said. He was fired in May for unrelated complaints of inappropriate behavior, he said. The shelter was unaware of the allegations at the time, Forseth said.

Forseth said the shelter is not under investigation, and police do not think there are any other victims. The allegations came to light after the unidentified victim, now 15, was moved to a youth facility in Pasco County, he said.

Souvannarath turned himself in to authorities at the Pinellas County jail Wednesday morning. He has denied all of the allegations to detectives, Forseth said. He is being held without bail.

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Ex-employee accused of having sex with girl at Pinellas Park children's shelter 01/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 3:41pm]
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