Florida Homeless Man Accused of Molesting 6-Year-Old Girl at Hurricane Michael Emergency Shelter
John Stapleton is charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of child under 12
A Florida homeless man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly sexually molested a six-year-old girl at a hurricane emergency shelter — and it was allegedly caught on tape.
John Stapleton allegedly assaulted the young girl at Davidson Middle School in Crestview where locals, including the 60-year-old homeless man, had sought shelter from Hurricane Michael.
According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, a witness told police that she watched a recording of the child being touched underneath her clothing.
Police looked at the video and spoke to Stapleton who admitted to touching the girl but denied it was in a “lewd manner,” according to a press release obtained by PEOPLE.
“The child was there with her family,” Michelle Nicholson, a public information officer with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office tells PEOPLE. “He was a homeless person who was evacuated to the shelter.”
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Nicholson says Stapleton did not know the child or her family. “He was there not even a full day,” she says.
Stapleton has been charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 12.
It is unclear if Stapleton has retained an attorney. He is being held without bond.
Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall Wednesday with sustained winds of 155 mph near Mexico Beach, Florida demolishing homes and flooding neighborhoods.
Michael Graham, the National Hurricane Center’s director, labeled the Michael weather event a “history-making, very devastating storm and one that we’re never going to forget,” according to NBC News.
More than 1,200 troops were activated by the Florida National Guard for emergency response. President Donald Trump also declared a state of emergency for Florida.
So far, the death toll across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas is 13.
Though the storm has weakened and the worst is over, at least 1.27 million people in seven states are without power, including 495,000 in North Carolina, according to CNN. Areas of Virginia and North Carolina are still experiencing flash floods.