LARGO — A 35-year-old man is accused of repeatedly sexually battering a girl over a 15-month period, deputies said, and threatening her if she told anyone.
She told the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office the abuse started in December 2018 when she was 13.
In a separate investigation, Steven Homol is accused of engaging in illegal sexual acts with a 16-year-old girl at Pops 2 Go. The Tyrone Square mall store sells Funko Pops, and his arrest report says he’s the manager.
The St. Petersburg Police Department conducted that investigation, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it is unrelated to its case. The Sheriff’s Office did not name the workplace in its investigation. The names of both girls were withheld by the agencies.
In the sheriff’s investigation, the girl reported the allegations in July 2020. She said it started in 2018, when she was 13 and working with Homol. She said he would force the victim into the bathroom at the undisclosed workplace, sexually batter her, and threatened “physical violence” if she told anyone, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Homol sexually battered the girl at several locations across Pinellas County, the agency said.
“Detectives say the victim continued a sexual relationship with Homol out of fear that he would hurt her,” the agency said. They said he also bought the girl gifts to keep her from telling anyone, and then the abuse ended in March 2020.
Sheriff’s detectives said they were building a case against Homol — then St. Petersburg detectives arrested him on Friday.
In that case, Homol is accused of engaging in illegal sexual activity with a 16-year-old in the back of Pops 2 Go on Wednesday after store hours, according to St. Petersburg police. That agency did not say how the allegations came to light. But St. Petersburg detectives say they posed as the 16-year-old on social media and engaged in explicit conversations with Homol.
Homol denied the allegations, according to St. Petersburg police, and denied sending the 16-year-old explicit messages. Police say the social media app was active on his phone when he was arrested.
Then sheriff’s detectives said they interviewed Homol on Saturday at the Pinellas County jail. Homol admitted to the allegations in that case, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Homol, of Largo, faces a charge of sexual battery through coercion by threats of violence in the sheriff’s case. In the St. Petersburg police case, he faces charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, unlawful use of a two-way communication device and certain uses of computer services prohibited — a charge levied when authorities have evidence that someone used a computer to solicit a child for a sexual act.
He was being held in the county jail on Saturday in lieu of $200,000 bail.