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Fight breaks out over sexual abuse charges

A 51-year-old Brooksville man was arrested after he was accused of engaging in sexual activity with a teenage girl as she slept.

The suspect, Paul E. Lepley, was taken into custody about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after the girl told authorities that on two separate occasions she was awakened by him fondling her, a Hernando County sheriff's report said.

Officials are withholding her identity because of the nature of the alleged offense.

Prior to his arrest, Lepley of 19340 Center Street was repeatedly punched and threatened with a BB gun by Steven Richards, 22, over the allegations.

Lepley sustained a deep cut to his upper lip, which required stitches, the report stated.

Richards was charged with felony battery and aggravated assault, and was being held at the Hernando County Jail in lieu of $8,000 bail.

When a detective questioned Lepley about the allegations, he invoked his right to have a lawyer present.

He was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery.

The arrest report does not clearly indicate the victim's age, but under state law an individual is charged with a second-degree felony if they engage in sexual activity with children ages 12 to 16.

The offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Bail for Lepley was set at $40,000.

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