Marion, former treasurer of child-focused charity group, accused of child sex abuse
Law enforcement officials have arrested a former Marion County children’s organization volunteer on charges of molesting a child.
James Andrew Davis was taken into custody by Whitfield County, Georgia Sheriff’s Deputies in Dalton, Georgia on May 25. The 71-year-old Weirsdale man was wanted in Marion County for sexual assault of a child under 12. .
Days before Davis was arrested, Georgia authorities said they received reports that he was hiding at a residence in Dalton. Davis is currently in the Whitfield County Jail, where he is being held without bail pending transfer to Marion County.
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According to Marion County Sheriff’s Det. Jordyn Batts’ report, the agency received a report on May 16 that Davis had sexually abused a boy. An investigation then began.
Batts went to the Kimberly Child Protection Center on May 18 to listen to an interview provided by the victim. The boy told a center official that Davis sexually abused him for about a year and provided details of their interactions.
The boy said the abuse started when Davis touched his buttocks and private area, according to the report. The minor said Davis would perform sex acts on him in exchange for gifts such as toys, money and art supplies.
The child gave graphic details of the encounters, which he said happened late at night, according to the interview. The victim said Davis told him that if he told anyone what he had done, he (Davis) would kill himself.
The boy also said Davis told him he had had similar experiences with other children, according to the arrest report. The boy said he reported the incidents to a relative.
Deputies couldn’t find Davis. Then they were contacted by Georgia officials, who eventually found Davis in their state.
A warrant for Davis’ arrest was signed by a judge on May 20, according to official documents.
Founder’s response to the allegation
Sheriff’s deputies said Davis was treasurer of Belleview-based Florida Kids Helping Kids. Deputies said Davis’ duties included taking children on field trips and helping out at children’s fairs and festivals.
The group’s website says it’s a “non-profit organization run by your donations, supplies, and our wonderful volunteers.”
Gerri Gerthe, founder of Florida Kids Helping Kids, said she was aware of the allegation against Davis. Gerthe said Davis is no longer on the board. She said he had passed a Level 2 background check which checks for fingerprints and any outstanding arrest warrants or court cases.
Gerthe said Davis never exhibited behavior similar to what he is charged with in the criminal case. She said she was not aware of any other allegations against him.
She said the news was devastating and her group was still standing up for children.
Gerthe said no adult is left alone with a child; there are always two adults with a child. She said adults and children are always out in the open and everything is done outside, as her group doesn’t have a building.
Detectives said that due to Davis’ close association with children, and that he allegedly told the victim that he abused other children, they believe there may be more victims.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Batts at 352-368-3847.
Contact Austin L. Miller at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Marion County, Florida, man charged with child sex abuse