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Groping alleged at haunted house

TARPON SPRINGS — A North Pinellas man was arrested on multiple child abuse charges Friday night after he went into a haunted house and fondled, kissed or harassed several youngsters, Tarpon Springs police said.

It happened about 10 p.m., police said. Police would not disclose the location, but said it was not a private home. They said there were five victims, ages 12 to 18.

The St. Petersburg Times is not naming the suspect because his identity was the subject of considerable confusion Saturday.

An arrest affidavit from Tarpon Springs police named one man, while Pinellas County Jail officials said fingerprints had established it was another man who used the same address and date of birth. A family member said the jail report was in error. Both men are about 50 years old and appear to be brothers.

The Sheriff's Office could not explain the discrepancy Saturday night.

Police said the man entered the haunted house as a part of a group. Outside the building, police said, he approached one girl and fondled her through an opening in her costume, police said.

Inside, the police report said, he forced a kiss on a young woman who was lying on a table, and groped her as well.

He grabbed another victim's head and shook it for five to seven seconds, and told another young person, "I'm not supposed to touch you, right?" before fondling and trying to kiss her, according to the affidavit.

He allegedly hit another teen in the stomach. That victim led arriving police officers to the man in a nearby alley. Police said he appeared to be drunk.

He was arrested on four counts of child abuse and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, police said, all felonies. He was released from jail Saturday afternoon after posting $60,000 bond, records show.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Groping alleged at haunted house 10/30/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 10:09pm]
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