NORTH PORT (WWSB) - A registered sexual predator living in North Port who is facing charges for his alleged behavior at a local pool was arrested in Jackson County, Texas on new charges this week.
Deputies in Charlotte County say after the story broke that 41-year-old Timothy Rice was wanted for loitering or prowling near children, a first degree misdemeanor, several parents came forward to report additional incidents involving Rice.
Following interviews and evidence gathering, deputies say they determined Rice had physical contact with children that was sexual or inappropriate in nature. A warrant was issued for his arrest and Rice was taken into custody in Texas this week on three counts of lewd/lascivious conduct and two counts of lewd/lascivious molestation on a victim less than 12-years old.
Rice was first arrested in Charlotte County for loitering or prowling near children on March 22. Deputies were called to the Ann Dever Regional Park swimming pool in Englewood after a parent reported a man had touched her daughter while at the pool the day before. The parent identified the man involved as Rice, who is a registered sexual predator convicted in 1998 of molesting several girls at an apartment complex pool in St. Petersburg where he was previously a lifeguard and martial arts instructor.
Deputies learned of other complaints involving Rice “watching kids” at two different state parks in North Florida and returned to the pool to investigate. The lifeguard told deputies that Rice had been coming to the pool for around two weeks and would bring toys like squirt guns and play with the kids. The lifeguard said one parent complained, saying Rice had squeezed her daughter’s butt and asked for a kiss.
While at the pool, a parent approached deputies to complain that Rice had grabbed her daughter’s thigh while they were in the water. He was arrested on scene and charged with loitering or prowling near children, a first degree misdemeanor.
Rice was released on bond, but deputies continued to investigate, finding a second incident allegedly involving Rice. However, when they went to his home to arrest him on a second charge of loitering or prowling near children, they found he was gone and believed he had left the state.
Now that he’s been taken into custody again, his bond has been set at $350,000.
Deputies believe Rice was actively prowling for a child victim and may have had contact with other children at the pool or other locations. Anyone with information should call 941-258-3900 or North Port Police at 941-429-7300.