A 32-year-old public utilities worker in Florida is behind bars this week after he allegedly admitted to filming himself sexually abusing multiple children as young as 13 from a local a group home in exchange for “items of value,” authorities say. Peter James Strickland was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, a second-degree felony, according to a press release from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation into Strickland began on July 6, 2022, when the sheriff’s office received a delayed sex offense complaint involving multiple minor victims all of whom resided at a group home in Palm Coast. Investigators quickly uncovered evidence that the case involved human trafficking.
“Major Case Master Detective LaVerne and Detective First Class Butler were assigned the case and during the investigation it was determined that Peter James Strickland, age 32, of Palm Coast was soliciting sex acts from juvenile females who were possibly as young as 13 years old,” FCSO said. “Strickland would entice the victims by offering them multiple items of value in exchange for the sexual activity and that he would also video record the sexual encounters.”
Detectives uncovered enough evidence to obtain and executed multiple search warrants as well as an arrest warrant for Strickland. Investigators on July 28 conducted an interview with Strickland at his place of employment, Palm Coast Utilities. During the interview, Strickland allegedly confessed to “having sexual relations” with the minor victims approximately 15 times over a two-year period. He allegedly said that the victims ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old. He also allegedly admitted to providing the minor victims with “items of value in exchange for the sexual activity” and confirmed possessing video recordings of several of the sexual encounters, FCSO said.
Investigators from multiple local law enforcement agencies aided in searching Strickland’s home located in the 10 block of Bassett Lane where “dozens” of items of additional evidence were allegedly recovered.
In an affidavit reviewed by Law&Crime, investigators wrote that a 17-year-old victim on July 27 told deputies that she met Strickland when she was 15-years-old. She told authorities that she and Strickland “subsequently engaged in unlawful sexual activities (vaginal/penile penetration & penile/oral penetration) with the most recent incident occurring with the past one to two months.” The victim further claimed that Strickland knew her age at the time of the sexual encounter.
“This was great work by our Major Case Unit and our Digital Forensics Unit for finding the evidence that got this pervert and human trafficker off the streets,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement. “Anyone who takes away a child’s innocence deserves to be behind bars forever. I hope this arrest will allow some closure to the victims and they are able to get the help they need. And to anyone who thinks they’ll get away with preying on our children, here’s the reminder that we will not stop until you’re arrested and unable to hurt another child ever again!”
Strickland if currently being held at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility on $100,000 bond, according to online records. He is facing up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Court records do no list Strickland’s next court appearance or an attorney representing him in the matter as of Monday morning.
“I am glad the Sheriff’s Office was able to stop him,” said Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that he was a utility worker but to our knowledge he did not do any of this disgusting behavior while working. I have faith in the Sheriff’s investigation and that the criminal justice system will hold him accountable.”
Read the arrest affidavit below.
[image via Flagler County Sheriff’s Office]
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