Polk County Sheriff's Office Deputies arrested 44-year-old Gary Smith of 5710 Tanasi Court, Lakeland, on May 3, 2001 and charged him with twenty seven (27) counts of Sexual Battery (by a person in custodial authority, FS 794.011 (8) (B)) and one count of Lewd Molestation. Smith teaches the "Boys Club" class on Wednesday nights at the Highlands Church of God located at 2405 C.R. 540 A in Lakeland. The two victims were members of the class Smith taught.
The investigation began after the Sheriff's Office received information about Smith's activities. The charges are the result of Smith and a 13-year-old boy having oral sex over 25 times during the past two years (25 counts of Sexual Battery). Smith was also charged for having oral sex with a 14-year-old boy at least once (1 count Sexual Battery), having penile/anus contact with the same 14-year-old (1 Count Sexual Battery), and for masturbating the 14-year-old one time (1 Count Lewd Molestation). There was not any penetration during the penile/anal contact and both victims stated all of the activities occurred at the Smith residence.
Smith said he has been a member of the Highland Church of God for approximately 8 years. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are pending. Anyone with additional information concerning the current charges and/or possible previous incidences should contact the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 533-0344.
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