Witnesses have told Hernando sheriff's investigators that a 66-year-old Ridge Manor man has fondled and sexually assaulted a number of young women since the 1970s.
Because of a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations on some of the offenses, Orgia Lee Hurst has been charged only in connection with assaults on two young women, authorities said Thursday.
Hurst, of 34416 Tannahill St., was arrested Monday on five counts of sexual battery on a person younger than 12 and one count of sexual battery on a person in familial custody. He was being held in the Hernando County Jail without bail.
One of the counts involved a 1993 sexual assault on a girl who is now 16 years old, and the other five involved sexual assaults between 1975 and 1981 on a woman who is now 26 years old.
The charges allege oral sex, digital penetration and attempted intercourse between Hurst and the victims. If convicted, Hurst could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Hurst committed "numerous counts" of sexual battery on another juvenile from the time she was 14 years old until she was 18, according to the Sheriff's Office. Authorities said witnesses also claimed that Hurst performed many lewd and lascivious acts. He was not charged in connection with those cases because too much time had elapsed between when the incidents occurred and when they were reported.
Hernando authorities say they also uncovered evidence of sexual offenses by Hurst in Pasco County. Detectives said they forwarded information to their counterparts in Pasco to investigate.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Deanna Dammer said authorities began investigating Hurst after the mother of one of the girls reported abuse to the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.
After a 10-month investigation by Detective Mike Nelson, the Sheriff's Office released details Thursday of the alleged offenses.
A 53-page investigative report outlines allegations that Hurst sexually molested children in his neighborhood and at his former church, the location of which was not disclosed. While some of the alleged victims recounted what had happened, others said they did not want to press charges.