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Former youth minister accused of indecent act

The former youth minister at Ft. Cooper Baptist Church was arrested Thursday and accused of committing an indecent act with a 14-year-old girl.

Frank Joseph Falabella, 35, of 9701 E Goldfinch Lane in Inverness, was charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act on a person under the age of 16.

"I'm not really in the mood to talk," Falabella told a Times reporter from his Inverness home Thursday after he was released on bail from the Citrus County Detention Facility.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, Falabella made this statement to sheriff's investigators:

He was driving a truck Dec. 30 and the girl was riding beside him in the passenger seat.

During the ride, Falabella took the girl's hand and placed it in his groin area, the report said. The girl then squeezed her hand, the report said.

The sheriff's report did not identify the girl or her connection to Falabella. The report also did not say whether the girl was a member of the church's congregation, or whether the incident occurred during a church-sponsored event.

Nor did the report detail how the incident came to light.

Falabella was arrested at 1:30 p.m. Thursday by sheriff's deputies and held on $2,000 bail.

Falabella, who is married, resigned from his post at Ft. Cooper Baptist Church on U.S. 41 in February for unknown reasons.

While he was youth minister, Falabella helped organize programs for young church members, including a teen chapel, which held Sunday morning services for teens only.

The church's pastor, Dave Maddox, was out of town Thursday and unavailable for comment.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.