Florida Man Arrested After Allegedly Molesting Child at Hurricane Michael Evacuation Center

October 12, 2018 Updated: October 12, 2018

A 60-year-old Florida man was arrested on Oct. 11 for allegedly molesting a girl under 12 years old at Davidson Middle School in Crestview, a Hurricane Michael evacuation center.

John Stapleton was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of someone under 12 years old.

A witness told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies that she saw a recording of the child being touched underneath her clothing; investigators watched the video, then confronted Stapleton, a homeless man.

Investigators said that Stapleton admitted to touching the girl but claimed it wasn’t in a lewd manner.

florida man arrested for molesting child
John Stapleton, 60, was arrested after allegedly molesting a girl under 12 years old, sheriff deputies in Florida said on Oct. 11, 2018. (Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)

Background Checks

Deputies manning the county-run evacuation shelters routinely run background checks on people entering the shelters.

County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel told NWF Daily News that the checks are crucial in identifying known sexual predators.

“We’re going to do background checks. It’s just our protocol here,” she said.

Some Red Cross staffers walked out of a shelter in the county on Wednesday after a disagreement about background checks.

A court records search turned up no history of child molestation charges against Stapleton, the outlet said.

Firefighter performs door search Hurricane Michael
Firefighter Austin Schlarb performs a door to door search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Shelter Fills Up

Davidson Middle School became so full with evacuees that officials said on Oct. 9 that only special needs evacuees would be able to shelter there, reported WEAR-TV.

People were being told to go to Raider Arena at Northwest Florida State College instead, as it was well under capacity.

A number of people took pets to the PAWS shelter while horses were being accepted at Baker Area Recreation Center.

personnel perform search aftermath Hurricane
Rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., on Oct. 11, 2018. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

11 Now Dead From Hurricane

At least 11 deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and by early Friday it wasn’t over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday’s landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barreling up the Southeast, dumping heavy rains and spreading flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.

High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters, and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out in spots around Virginia and neighboring North Carolina. And while forecasters said Michael was gradually losing its tropical traits, a new chapter would begin as an extratropical storm predicted to intensify with gale force winds once it starts its cross out into the Atlantic.

In North Carolina’s mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Flash flooding was also reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas were without power.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From NTD.tv

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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